In powerful speeches to Congress, AOC & Rashida Tlaib demand accountability for Capitol attack

“Some are already demanding that we move on or, worse, attempting to minimize, discredit or belittle the accounts of survivors.”

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SOURCEDemocracy Now!

As the U.S Senate prepares its impeachment trial of President Trump for inciting the January 6 insurrection, House lawmakers took to the floor Thursday to detail their experiences and demand accountability. We air excerpts from dramatic speeches by Democratic Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. “Some are already demanding that we move on or, worse, attempting to minimize, discredit or belittle the accounts of survivors,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “In doing so, they not only further harm those who were there that day and provide cover for those responsible, but they also send a tremendously damaging message to survivors of trauma all across this country, that the way to deal with trauma, violence and targeting is to paper it over, minimize it and move on.”


Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate is preparing to begin its impeachment trial of President Trump for inciting the deadly January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Democratic House lawmakers warned on Thursday about the dangers of ignoring or minimizing the violence of the insurrection. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York organized a special session to give lawmakers a chance to talk about what happened that day.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Twenty-nine days ago, on January 6th of 2021, insurrectionists attacked our Capitol seeking to overturn the results of our nation’s election. Twenty-nine days ago, the glass in and around this very chamber was shattered by gunshots, clubs, by individuals seeking to restrain and murder members of Congress, duly elected to carry out the duties of their office. Twenty-nine days ago, officer Sicknick, who just laid in honor yesterday in our nation’s Capitol, was murdered on the steps just outside this hallowed floor. Two Capitol Police officers have lost their lives since, in addition to the four other people who died on the events of January 6th. Twenty-nine days ago, food service workers, staffers, children ran or hid for their lives from violence deliberately incited by the former president of the United States.

Sadly, less than 29 days later, with little to no accountability for the bloodshed and trauma of the 6th, some are already demanding that we move on or, worse, attempting to minimize, discredit or belittle the accounts of survivors. In doing so, they not only further harm those who were there that day and provide cover for those responsible, but they also send a tremendously damaging message to survivors of trauma all across this country, that the way to deal with trauma, violence and targeting is to paper it over, minimize it and move on.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking Thursday. Her sister Squad member, Congressmember Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, also spoke.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: This is so hard, because, as many of my colleagues know, my closest colleagues know, on my very first day of orientation, I got my first death threat. It was a serious one. They took me aside. The FBI had to go to the gentleman’s home. I didn’t even get sworn in yet, and someone wanted me dead for just existing. More came later, uglier, more violent, one celebrating, in writing, the New Zealand massacre and hoping that more would come, another mentioning my dear son Adam — mentioning him by name. Each one paralyzed me each time.

So, what happened on January 6th, all I could do was thank Allah that I wasn’t here. I felt overwhelming relief. And I feel bad for Alexandria, so many of my colleagues that were here. But as I saw it, I thought to myself, “Thank God I’m not there.” I saw the images that they didn’t get to see until later.

My team and I decided at that point we’d keep the death threats away. We try to report them, document them, to keep them away from me, because it just paralyzed me. And all I wanted to do was come here and serve the people that raised me; the people that told my mother, who only had eighth-grade education, that she deserves human dignity; people that believed in me. And so it’s hard. It’s hard when my seven brothers and six sisters beg me to get protection, many urging me to get a gun for the first time.

And I have to tell you, the trauma from just being here, existing as a Muslim, is so hard, but imagine my team, which I lovingly just adore. They are diverse. I have LGBTQ staff. I have a beautiful Muslim that wears her hijab proudly in the halls. I have Black women that are so proud to be here to serve their country. And I worry every day for their lives because of this rhetoric. I never thought that they would feel unsafe here.

And so, I ask my colleagues to please try not to dehumanize what’s happening. This is real. And you know many of our residents, from the shootings in Charlottesville to the massacre at the synagogue — all of it. All of it is led by hate rhetoric like this. And so I urge my colleagues to, please, please take what happened on January 6 seriously. It will lead to more death. And we can do better. We must do better. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Detroit Congressmember Rashida Tlaib, speaking on the House floor. During her testimony, Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came over and put her hand on her back to comfort her.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. When we come back, President Biden pledges to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, describing it as a “humanitarian catastrophe.” But will this end the war? Back in 30 seconds.

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