Democratic Representative Ocasio-Cortez recounted her experience from the January 6th Capitol attack Tuesday, describing sheltering in the building, the days leading up to it, and her reflections both politically and personally, in an Instagram live.
“A lot went on, and a lot led up to what went on,” said the New York Democrat in the live feed. “And I think it’s important to talk about it.”
Ocasio-Cortez revealed at the beginning of the video that she is a survivor of sexual assault. She drew parallels to the experience of worrying about being believed and being told to move on in reference to Republican senators’ reactions to the event.
“The reason I say this and the reason I get emotional in this moment is because these folks who tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened, or even telling us to apologize. These are the same tactics of abusers. And, um, I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” said the congresswoman.
Describing the day of the insurrection, she recounted being told by her staffer to hide, and after finding refuge in the bathroom, she heard banging and watched a white man in a beanie rummage through her office shouting for her.
“I just hear huge violent bangs on my door and then every door going into my office,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez. “… I just started to hear these yells of: ‘Where is she? Where is she? […] I thought everything was over.’”
The congresswoman explained her immense fear and belief that she was going to die. Ultimately, her staffer who was with her that day came into the room with someone who was supposedly a Capitol police officer to give her instructions to go to a new location. While she was suspicious of the officer who didn’t announce himself, they ran to the next location, and unsure of which room to hide in, found refuge in Representative Porter’s office.
“She was opening up doors […] and she said, ‘I’m looking for where I’m going to hide,’” said Representative Porter describing when Representative Ocasio-Cortez entered her office. “… I was saying well don’t worry. I’m a mom. I’m calm. I’ve got everything here we need. We can live for like a month in this office. And she said, ‘I just hope I get to be a mom. I hope I don’t die today.’ And the second thing is she was wearing heels. I remember her saying to me[…]: ‘I knew I shouldn’t have worn heels. How am I going to run?’”
Ocasio-Cortez then describes remaining sheltered in Porter’s office, afraid to go to the extraction point because of other members of Congress who had been live-tweeting Speaker Pelosi’s location. She then said, after receiving a text from Representative Pressley to “come and eat”, she stayed in her office until 4 AM. Congress then chose to move forward with confirming the electoral college results.
“We are not safe with people who hold positions of power who are willing to endanger the lives of others if they think it will score them a political point,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez.
She went on to describe the days leading up to it, as she and other congress members knew violence was coming. She explained that she began receiving text messages from Republicans and other members of Congress that violence was expected, started to notice people in DC carrying poles and wearing MAGA hats, and even had an incident with people crowding her car and harassing her just outside the capitol Monday.
“I don’t think a lot of people felt safe walking to votes,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez. “And it was already the kind of situation where we needed to drive or take a tunnel to the capitol. That was on Tuesday.”
On February 4th, more members of Congress shared their stories of the Capitol Attack on the House Floor, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush, Sheila Jackson Lee, Barbara Lee, Adriano Espaillat, Rashida Tlaib, Peter Welch, Donald Norcross, Mark Takano, and Mary Gay Scanlon.
“My story is not the only story, nor is it the central story,” said Representative Ocasio-Cortez as she concluded the live video that lasted over an hour. “It’s one of many stories of what these people did in creating this environment.”