Alabama delegates reflect on anniversary of US Capitol riots

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke to WSFA 12 News about the Jan. 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke to WSFA 12 News about the Jan. 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 9:21 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (WSFA) - “Our democracy is fragile.”

That’s what U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell told WSFA 12 News as she thought back to her workday in the House gallery on Jan. 6, 2021 when angry protestors made their way inside and things got violent.

The reasons behind the riots are well known. They were there to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over then-President Donald Trump.

One Capitol Police officer died amid the attack, as one woman who entered the building. Four other demonstrators died of natural causes during the riots. More than 100 other officers were injured.

“Fearing for my life and my workplace was just a horror that I really can’t put into words even a year later,” said Sewell.

On the one-year anniversary of the attack, the solemnness was palpable in the Washington speeches, including those by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Sewell, who is Alabama’s lone Democrat in Washington, said she felt it was important that she be in Washington with other members of Congress who were present at the storming to reaffirm their vow to prevent it from ever happening again.

The Selma congresswoman called it a “horrific insurrection,” adding, “I think that’s what you have to call it.

She said there were about 30 of them in the press gallery for about 45 minutes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Mike Pence were removed.

“I think that the fear that I was feeling was very much like the terror of being assaulted, frankly, a violent assault,” she said.

“The fact that we had members of Congress and members of Cabinet and our president inciting fellow Americans to rise up and try to overtake government, to me, that is something that is really unforgivable, and I think what would be even more unforgivable is if we as members of Congress don’t try to get to the bottom of it and hold those folks responsible and make sure that we put in place those safeguards so that it’ll never happen again,” said Sewell.

Sewell emphasized that the 2020 election was fair and safe, and observed how Congress certified the election that night despite the riot. And she noted her work in pushing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to combat voting laws that have passed in multiple states since November 2020.

“We had just sworn an oath two days prior for the new Congress, and we all raised our hands and promised to uphold the Constitution against threats foreign and domestic, and I never would have ever thought that it would be domestic threats,” she said. “And I think that it’s really important that we get to the bottom of so that it never happens again.”

Eleven Alabamians have been arrested in connection to the Capitol’s storming. Three have pleaded guilty.

Besides her interview, Sewell tweeted some reflections too.

A few of Alabama’s Republican lawmakers in Washington also took to Twitter with thoughts about the anniversary. Among them were Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. Barry Moore.

Rep. Mo Brooks’ Jan. 6 tweet had a different tone than the others. It attacked Congress over the 2020 presidential election, insisting there was fraud. Multiple federal, state and independent investigations, including from the Department of Justice, did not find any widespread fraud or anything that would have changed the outcome.

Brooks, who is running for Senate, spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Capitol attack.

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