WASHINGTON — Following are statements from Asian Pacific American members of Congress commemorating the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Today both the president and vice president spoke forcefully about Jan. 6, 2021: a procedural day to signify the orderly and peaceful transfer of presidential power which turned into one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. A day where a mob of domestic terrorists attempted to delegitimize our election process; shaking our country to its very core.
“In reflecting on this horrific day, we cannot lose sight of the fact that this physical attack was just one part of a premeditated and ongoing all-out assault on our free and fair elections. Watching armed militia members storm the Capitol was shocking and will undoubtedly have a profound and lasting impact on our country. But let me be clear: just because we don’t have armed militia members hanging from the rafters of the Senate chamber does not mean that our democracy is no longer under attack.
“Since Jan. 6, over 500 bills have been introduced by state legislatures across the country with the intention of making it harder for people to vote. Republicans have decided that spreading misinformation and rigging elections by preventing targeted voters from voting is the only way they will retain their power.
“If we don’t protect the right to vote, we won’t have a democracy — it’s that simple.”
“We cannot sit back and let one political party continue to unravel the threads of our democracy, one voter suppression bill at a time. The bottom line is we have to fight back and reject these attacks, just like we rejected the insurrectionists one year ago today. As long as the right to vote is under attack, so too is our democracy.
“The Senate must pass comprehensive voter protection legislation. It’s clear Republicans will refuse to join us to protect our right to vote, all while hiding behind lies. But I want everyone to know, we have a path forward to protect our democracy — even without a single Republican — and every single Democratic senator needs to get on board.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “One year ago, at the direction of Donald Trump, armed insurrectionists stormed our nation’s Capitol in a horrific attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election. These photos speak for themselves — this was no ‘peaceful protest,’ but a grave threat to our democracy.
“Attempts to rewrite the history of that day are insults to the Capitol Police and other officers we’ve lost. But rather than work to protect our democracy, Republicans have chosen to peddle the very same lies that led to the insurrection in the first place.
“My buddies and I didn’t defend our democracy in war zones overseas only to watch it crumble in these hallowed halls here at home. Now we must uncover all that happened, hold accountable those responsible, and ensure this never happens again.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena): “One year ago today, I was preparing to certify Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s election. But because one man put himself above our democracy, I instead spent eight hours locked in my office, careful to keep the TV volume down so nobody would know I was there.
“Every day when I go to vote in the House, I pass the entrance where police barricaded
the doors with guns drawn and I’m reminded how close our democracy came to ruin. I’m grateful to the police who kept us safe that day.
“The insurrection on 1/6 was planned, it was deliberate, and it was actively encouraged by Donald Trump and his party because they’d rather resort to violence than lose an election. The threat cannot be forgotten. As Ben Franklin said, we have ‘a republic, if we can keep it.’”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Manhattan Beach): “Today marks the one-year anniversary of a direct attack on our democracy by domestic terrorists. On Jan. 6, 2021, the former president incited a violent riot in a desperate attempt to nullify the election. The former president’s supporters assaulted 140 police officers and tore through the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from counting the Electoral College votes. The former president’s supporters used violence because they failed at the ballot box. That is not democracy, it is anarchy.
“It was clear almost immediately that day that Congress had to act. Not only for posterity, but to ensure that the waning weeks of the former administration were not full of more chaos and violence. That is why Congressmembers (David) Cicilline (D-R.I.), (Jamie) Raskin (D-Md.) and I started drafting an Article of Impeachment while on lockdown on Jan. 6. It was imperative to us that we hold the then-president accountable and retain leverage to quickly remove him from office should he try something even more unimaginable at the end of his term.
“We believed then as we do now that it is our solemn and profound duty to protect our democratic institutions. A year later, many Republicans continue to perpetuate the ‘big lie,’ claiming that the election was stolen. It was not, as has been proven over and over again. The former president got crushed in the popular vote and lost the Electoral College by multiple states. The extremist Republican big lie is corrosive to the foundation of our American democracy.
“History will remember the mob that stormed the Capitol, the president who incited the mob and the lawmakers who promoted the insurrection for what they are: traitors. The anniversary of Jan. 6 will forever serve as a reminder that our democracy is only as strong as its most fervent defenders. In America, we settle political disagreements through voting, not violence. Those of us that value American ideals and institutions must continue to cherish and guard our democracy and the freedoms it bestows.”
Rep. Young Kim (R-Diamond Bar): “My heart is always with the brave men and women of our Capitol Police who put themselves in harm’s way to keep the Capitol running and who kept my colleagues, staff and the Capitol Hill community safe one year ago today. You are heroes and we appreciate you and your families.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “It’s been said many times, but Jan. 6, 2021, was truly one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. As Congress was carrying out its constitutional duty of certifying President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ historic victory, violent insurgents provoked by then-President Donald Trump and members of the Republican Party who believed in the big lie stormed the U.S. Capitol with the intent of preventing the certification and causing terror.
“As I reflect on that horrific day and all the days that led up to it, I am reminded of the fragility of our democracy and the divisions that plague our country – it keeps me up at night. I am troubled at how divided we are, frustrated at the siloed news information that heavily contributes to our divisiveness, and furious at my Republican counterparts who consistently fail to condemn the actions of white nationalists and far-right extremists, and who have been craven in their failure to denounce the lies they perpetuate. One year later, this continues to be a grave situation.
“I also think about the staffers, police officers, custodians, and so many others who were present that day to do their job and serve our country honorably. They had to endure a pain of their own, and their dedication and sacrifice cannot be lost on us.
“It was Abraham Lincoln who said that America is ‘the last best hope of earth,’ and it is. I will always believe in America, and I will always believe America is worth fighting for, but we must have the courage and the persistence to fight for it, for the greatest challenge to our country is ourselves. Let us remember that we are one nation with one destiny. We will prevail.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “One year ago today, an attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Congress, and the Constitution sought to silence the voices of American voters and overthrow our democratic process with violence. As a member of Congress, I had always felt safe in the Capitol, the citadel of our democracy. Yet, as I bunkered down in my office and watched my colleagues and friends barricade themselves in the House chamber, that feeling came tumbling down.
“We saw in the starkest terms that our democracy was not immune to the power of lies and misinformation, and that our most sacred democratic processes are equally precious as they are fragile. America was reminded that our democracy is not simply predestined to exist. Its survival requires all of us to stand up, defend, and never take its survival for granted.
“Last year, the guardrails of our democratic institutions were tested like never before. That is why today we reaffirm our commitment to the American people. We vow to build a future in which we all have equitable access to the ballot. We take up an unrelenting commitment to the truth. Together, we will secure the future for our children and grandchildren and keep our democracy strong.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara): “On Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol. It was one of the darkest days for our nation and one that we are still working to recover from. I am forever indebted to the brave officers of the U.S. Capitol Police, many of whom are still grappling with emotional and physical trauma from that day.
“We’re still learning just how far the Trump Administration was willing to go to overturn the results of our election. The Select Committee investigating the attack is doing a thorough job examining the evidence to ensure that the American people have a full accounting of the events on, and leading up to, Jan. 6.”
Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii): “One year ago today was my third day in office. One year ago today, armed and violent insurrectionists stormed and trashed the U.S. Capitol, our hallowed beacon of democracy. We must hold all those accountable. They must be brought to justice.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.): “One year ago today, I was trapped in the House gallery with 30 others as insurrectionists violently invaded. I remember each moment vividly. I remember hiding under the seats as they pounded on the doors just feet away. I remember hearing a gunshot ring out. I remember clutching my gas mask and cane, ready to fight back.
“I remember not knowing if I would make it out alive.
“This violent siege was so much more than an attack on me, my colleagues, Congress, or our Capitol. It was an attack on America and our democracy, incited by Trump to overthrow a free and fair election. There must be justice.
“Let’s remember Jan. 6 by fully investigating what happened that day, holding EVERYONE involved accountable, and ending the Big Lie once and for all.”
Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-Wash.): “Jan. 6 was a deadly act of domestic terrorism, representing one of the darkest days in American history. But the truth is, we know the plot to undermine our democracy did not happen overnight. Defending our democracy doesn’t just mean continuing to uncover the truth about Jan. 6, it also means protecting legitimate elections and voting rights for generations to come. On this solemn anniversary, we honor the bravery of those who defended our Capitol and uphold our oath to the Constitution.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.): “Jan. 6, 2021 will go down as one of the darkest days in our country’s history. On that day, more than, 2,000 insurrectionists violently breached the Capitol in an effort to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. During the attack, the insurrectionists injured 150 law enforcement officers, while five people lost their lives as a result of the day’s events.
“I was evacuated from my office after Capitol Police discovered a bomb 200 feet from my office window. Following the horrors of that afternoon, after the National Guard arrived to secure the Capitol, I joined my colleagues in crossing the broken glass and wreckage that filled the halls of Congress to return to the House floor to certify the election and fulfill our constitutional duty.
“There can be no compromise with those that would seek to overthrow our republic. There can be no reconciliation. Instead, our focus must be on pursuing truth and justice. Through the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, we must learn the truth of what happened that day, who was responsible, and how we can prevent any such events from ever occurring again.
“Through the Department of Justice, we must deploy every available resource to fully investigate, prosecute and convict all those responsible for the planning and execution of the insurrection. Those who attacked our Capitol must be held accountable for the sake of justice and to send the unwavering message that Americans will never tolerate any attempt to subvert our democracy.
“Today is a day of remembrance for that tragedy, a day of thanks for those who showed heroism in facing it, and a day of rededication to the work yet to be done to ensure it never happens again.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “The Jan. 6 insurrection was an assault on our democracy. It shook our country to the core, and we continue to reel from the violence and bloodshed that rioters unleashed on the sacred grounds of the U.S. Capitol, all in a seditious attempt to overturn a fair, free, and peaceful election.
“That shocking and harrowing day was terrifying. For hours, I was barricaded in a room off the House floor as the angry mob marched right outside my door. I feared for my life and called loved ones asking them to pray for me as these insurrectionists, spurred by then-President Trump, stormed the halls of Congress. I continue to be offended, appalled, and disgusted over the havoc and damage that they wreaked and their weaponizing of the American flag, and all Americans should feel the same regardless of party affiliation.
“So many whose lives were put in harm’s way continue to be affected by the horror that they were forced to endure; not just members of Congress but congressional staff members, members of the media, Capitol employees, and our brave Capitol and Washington Metropolitan police officers, especially the families of those who lost their lives after heroically defending the People’s House. We continue to grieve their loss and their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
“Hundreds have been charged for their roles in the attack and it is crucial that those responsible continue to be brought to justice.
“Many questions about Jan. 6 remain unanswered; from who was involved, the security, coordination and communications failures that occurred, and the actions of former President Trump and his apparent refusal to stop the chaos. That is why I voted over the summer to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate what happened, and already it has interviewed more than 300 witnesses and secured thousands of pages of records.
“It is essential for the American people to have accountability and the truth. We deserve nothing less, and I am hopeful that we will find out these answers as the panel continues its vital work.
“The insurrection is still surreal to me, and I continue to see the destructive and violent images of rioters when I walk through the Capitol. As we reflect on the one-year anniversary of the attack, we must all stand united against the heinous acts that occurred on that dark day in our nation’s history. We must continue to address the hurt and pain that it has caused, the healing that needs to still take place, and do everything in our power to ensure that a situation like this never ever happens again.”
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.): “A year later, the most vivid memory I have of Jan. 6 is the moment I returned to the House chamber after the riot had been quelled. I stepped over broken glass to get into the chamber. What ensued over the next hour was the most powerful experience of my career. People spoke with hushed whispers. We touched each other’s shoulders gently with comfort as if at a funeral. Everyone still in a daze, swimming in uncertainty of the uncharted moment. I took a seat along the center aisle as the speeches began.
“I glanced around the room. This is the room where our nation united during some of our darkest moments. Where FDR gave his Pearl Harbor ‘Day of Infamy’ speech. Where leaders gathered after 9/11 to show resolve and unity. Where decisions of war and peace were made. Could it happen again? Would we finally unite? For a brief moment I thought what happened would be a shock to the system. Like a defibrillator pulling our country back into rhythm. The speeches were raw, talking about the need to pull together. But then something changed.
“When speeches switched back to Electoral College debate, I felt something change in the room. I watched people pull out the same speech about election fraud they were going to give before, as if the riot never happened. The prospect of unity lasted only 35 minutes and 53 seconds. That was when I knew this would not be the unifying moment we needed. Shock of Jan. 6 was not enough to shatter the Big Lie. Many ask me if my colleagues who spout the Big Lie believe what they say. At that moment I knew for certain they did. They believed every single word.
“I started to walk out of the House chamber in disgust. While the riot damaged our Capitol, I felt that the scene I just witnessed would ultimately do more harm. The lasting damage of Jan. 6 was not the roaring riot, but the selfish silence and purposeful amnesia afterwards. I walked out the center doors of the House chamber. The same doors that presidents walk through to give the State of the Union. Just hours earlier they had been smashed and barricaded with guns drawn …
“As I walked the halls away from the chamber I kept thinking, maybe our nation lost its ability to be shocked. After a pandemic and now Jan. 6, could something actually shock us to the point where we rediscover our shared identity/common good, like our nation has in the past? Then I entered the Rotunda. To see that room, the most beautiful room in the most beautiful building in America desecrated, broke my heart. I got on my knees and started to pick up. As I picked up debris, I wandered down a side hall and saw something.
“I saw a plaque: ‘Beneath this tablet the cornerstone…was laid by George Washington.’ I stood there carrying a bag of torn flags and broken glass, reminded that this building is bigger than all of us. I realized at that moment that I am but a mere caretaker of this building. This realization of being a caretaker fundamentally changed the way I see my job. Changed how I see the responsibility of being a citizen. Our democracy was handed to us, and on our watch we must do our best to preserve it and then pass it off to those that follow …”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.): “Today we remember the heartbreaking and harrowing day on which we witnessed the worst of America, but also the best of America. I am so thankful to Officer (Harry) Dunn and all the law enforcement officers who kept us safe and enabled a free and fair election to be properly certified.”