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Rep. Pramila Jayapal Recounts Her Harrowing Experience Escaping the Insurrectionists

Rep. Pramila Jayapal Recounts Her Harrowing Experience Escaping the Insurrectionists

Staff Writer
  • To the people who say they want to move on, Jayapal says, it “completely ignores the depth of the problem and the trauma associated with what we just went through.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal was in the gallery of the U.S. Congress, along with some of her Congressional colleagues, on Jan. 6, watching the proceedings in the chamber below to count the Electoral College vote and certify the result of the presidential election. And it was not long before she was caught up in the tumultuous events of the day that shocked the country and the world.

It began when Jayapal’s husband texted her, warning her about “a big mob of protesters” outside the Capitol. She replied to him saying that the Capitol building is probably the most secure place to be. Then came the alerts on the phone, and then “We could hear the insurrectionists coming in … Before we knew it, everyone on the floor below us had been removed, and … we were still there,” she told The Cut. “And it didn’t look like anyone was coming to get us.” 

Recalling the harrowing details of the fateful day, Jayapal told The Cut that when the police came they told them to wear the gas masks that were under their seats. During this time, Jayapal had only one worry — she had one of her knees replaced five weeks ago and is using a cane. “My concern was would I be able to get up and down quickly enough if we needed to get out,” she told The Cut. She could hear shots being fired. They were holed up for over an hour before they were escorted to safety.

“It is very clear to me that there were breaches of our law-enforcement agencies. The fact that there were no barriers, that they were essentially allowed in.”

On her Facebook page, Jayapal posted a link of her interview with The Cut. Accompanying that she wrote: “We all understand — but particularly as a woman of color and an immigrant woman of color — what happens when you have white nationalist, armed, violent individuals. The threat is extremely real. I just knew this was going to be terrible and consequential. I believe we have to reconvene immediately. I was proud of us for going back into the chamber and finishing the job because we had to make sure Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would be the next president and vice-president. But we’re not done. We must immediately remove Donald Trump from office.”

Speaking about the Jan 6 riots, she told The Cut that it wasn’t an accident. “It is very clear to me that there were breaches of our law-enforcement agencies. The fact that there were no barriers, that they were essentially allowed in.” Noting the “discrepancy” of what would have happened if these had been peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, she said, “Believe me, they would not have been anywhere near that building. And there would have been a lot of arrests.”

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The Congresswoman from Washington state even drew parallels between her 2018 arrest when she was protesting against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. “Then there were 250 people arrested,” she told The Cut. “And then, of course, we know what happened during the Black Lives Matter protests and the National Guard being called in,” she said. “Yet on Wednesday, there were no barricades. The National Guard didn’t show up until very late in the day. And Capitol police essentially allowed protesters to come in. We’re a country that, to my great chagrin, spends $750 billion on the military. And yet we can’t protect our own U.S. Capitol?”

To the people who say they want to move on, Jayapal said, it “completely ignores the depth of the problem and the trauma associated with what we just went through.They came with guns. They were armed. They were clothed in bulletproof vests; they were shooting towards the chamber in the Capitol. They desecrated the Capitol, broke into offices, the office of the parliamentarian. Had the Electoral College certification votes been there, they would’ve taken them. No question.”

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