Told to put on gas masks and lie on floor as Capital Police battled with mob.
As violent pro-Trump mobs stormed the US Capitol in a futile bid to overturn the historic election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris all four Indian American lawmakers hunkered down in place until the storm was over.
All four Democrats — Pramila Jayapal from Washington, Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois, Ami Bera and Ro Khanna, both from California — later recalled their scary moments as Congress gathered to certify President-elect Biden and his deputy Harris’ victory.
“It was a very scary moment,” said Jayapal, who “crouched behind a railing in the House gallery, seeking shelter from a scene that more closely resembled a terrorist attack than a peaceful transfer of power,” as Seattle Times described it.
Jayapal was one of a select few members of Congress in the gallery, overlooking the House floor as crowds broke into the seat of government, forcing the building into a lockdown.
“We were there when shots began to be fired into the chamber, we saw, from where I was sitting, I could see Capitol Police with their guns drawn,” Jayapal told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
House members were instructed to pull out gas masks that were stowed under their seats. Another House member began to pray. Jayapal and others joined in, the Times said.
“I was closing my eyes and praying to whoever was listening that there would be peace, that there would be no violence.”
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The lawmakers were asked to lie on the floor as protesters faced off with Capitol police — a feat that was difficult for Jayapal, who recently had a knee replacement and was walking with a cane, the Times said.
“There is no question in my mind that the finger should be pointed directly at the president of the United States, Donald Trump, and everybody that played along with him,” she said blaming Trump for the unprecedented attack on Congress.
“We will defeat these senseless objections and certify the Electoral College results,” Jayapal later tweeted. “Our votes will be counted, our voices will be heard, and our democracy will prevail.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States.”
A banging on his office door at the Cannon Building in Washington DC started Illinois’s Krishnamoorthi and his staff on a bizarre odyssey amid havoc at the Capitol Wednesday, Chicago’s Daily Herald reported.
Reacting to fears of a bomb at the building, which houses hundreds of lawmakers and their aides, Capitol Police “knocked on the door extremely loudly and said,’ get out!'” Krishnamoorthi recounted.
“This is not a good moment for America,” he said while barricaded in a safe location on the Capitol complex as law enforcement battled with crowds.
“We’re in a fraught moment where we have violent people within our buildings. I’m just thinking of the brave Capitol Police who have to deal with them right now,” he was quoted as saying.
Krishnamoorthi was moved to two separate locations as he answered calls, emails and texts from his family and constituents concerned for his safety.
One important exchange was with his middle son, who is in elementary school, the Herald said.
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“He was very concerned. I talked it through with him until he felt safe,” Krishnamoorthi said. “I’m so thankful for the thoughts and the contacts and the blessings.”
“I feel very saddened and distressed it’s come to this. I think this is what happens when you have a leader who doesn’t appeal to our best instincts but to our darkest instincts,” Krishnamoorthi was quoted as saying.
“Our country is better than this, our democracy is stronger than this, and we will move forward. But this is a dark day for our country,” he tweeted later.
“Today’s violent and unlawful acts were an attempt to stop our democratic process,” tweeted Ami Bera, the longest serving Indian American Congressman.
“Let us be clear: our democracy will not be subverted by a mob, nor by a President. Congress will fulfill its constitutional duty and certify the results of the election,” he wrote in another tweet. “Democracy will prevail.”
“My staff and I are safe,” he said in an earlier tweet as he sheltered in place. “The storming of the US Capitol is dangerous and disgusting and needs to stop, immediately
Ro Khanna, who too was “Sheltering in Cannon” tweeted, “Trump was rejected in courts by people his party appointed, rejected by states where his party was in power & now by his party’s Senate leader & VP.”
“Democracy is still sacred for Americans. That spirit will overcome today’s violence. Prayers for the injured,” he wrote
“After a day of evacuation from a bomb threat & lockdown, I am honored that I am now going to vote NO on the R objections to overturn state election results,” Khanna tweeted later.
“This is my way of honoring the police, national guard, & responders who risked their life today to protect our democracy.”
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