House and Senate

U.S. Capitol Riot felt like a Zombie Movie

On Jan 12, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Instagram and gave an impassioned speech in the wake of Jan 6’s siege on the US Capitol. She railed against Senator Cruz and Senator Josh Hawley and people, she believed, helped encourage the type of behaviour that resulted in that siege.

Back then — for legal reasons — Ocasio-Cortez held back from providing too many info on her own experience during the siege, but called it “a close encounter where I thought I was going to die.”

But on Monday night, Ocasio-Cortez took part in an Instagram live session to provide additional details. She described a panicked scene where her life was one of many put in danger. 

“My story is just one story,” she said. “It’s not the only story, nor is it anywhere close to the central story.

“But the reason why I think it’s important to share is because so many of the people who helped perpetrate, and who take responsibility for what happened in the capital, are trying to tell us all to move on. And they’re trying to tell us to forget about what happened. They’re trying to tell us that it wasn’t a big deal. They’re trying to tell us to move on without any accountability, without any truth telling or without actually confronting the extreme damage, physical harm, loss of life, and trauma that was inflicted on not just me as a person… but all of us as a collective.”

In the process Ocasio-Cortez revealed she was a “survivor of sexual assault”, referencing an incident that occured sometime before Jan. 6. 

Ocasio-Cortez claimed that some members of congress had been made aware that some sort of violence could potentially occur on Jan 6, to the point where Ocasio-Cortez was warned in advance that she “needed to be careful about the sixth”. Ocasio-Cortez also appeared to suggest that many vocal Trump supporters had begun to filter into Washington DC on Monday, days ahead of the Capitol siege.

“Anyone who tells you that we couldn’t have seen this coming is lying to you,” she said. “Anyone who’s gone on the record, and said that there was no indication of violence has lied.”

Later Ocasio-Cortez recalled a terrifying sequence of events where she “thought everything was over”. After hearing a number of bangs on her door, she described trying to find a place to hide as people attempted to break into her office.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said.

“I go into the back, and there’s a bathroom, and then there’s a closet. And I jump into the bathroom. And I immediately realized that I shouldn’t have gone to the bathroom, I should have jumped in the closet. And so, I opened the door, when all of a sudden I hear that whoever was trying to get inside, got into my office.

“And then I just start to hear these yells of, ‘where is she? Where is she?'”

Ocasio-Cortez said this was the moment where she “thought everything was over”.

At some point, one of Ocasio-Cortez’s staffers helps her leave her office and come across a Capitol police officer that she claims was looking at her with “tremendous amount of anger and hostility”. He gave her vague directions which she attempted to follow. Ocasio-Cortez was critical of Capitol police leadership in general, stating they were aware of the potential for violence but “didn’t prepare adequately”. 

“It almost felt like a zombie movie,” Ocasio-Cortez added.

She ended up in the office of US Rep. Katie Porter, where she borrowed some clothes in an attempt to appear less conspicuous. They barricaded together in that office for hours, before heading up to certify the electoral college results. 

According to Ocasio-Cortez there are additional details she’s “not ready for right now”. It’s a terrifying, in-depth account that goes into details on, not only what occurred, but its impact on her personally.

“If you have experienced any sort of trauma… recognizing that and admitting it is already a huge step,” she said. “Especially in a world where people are constantly trying to tell you that you didn’t experience what you experienced, or that you’re lying.

“If you are a survivor of abuse of neglect of verbal abuse of sexual assault, there’s the trauma of going through what you went through. Then there’s the trauma afterwards, of people not believing you or trying to publicly humiliate you or trying to embarrass you.”