‘I thought I was going to die’: AOC personalizes insurrection, bringing up past sexual assault
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday offered a deeply personal account of the Capitol insurrection, denouncing Republican calls to move on from the event as akin to tactics used by abusers and opening up about her own history with sexual assault.
Via Instagram Live, the New York Democrat excoriated Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, saying they had encouraged the rioters by supporting former President Donald Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election, and accusing them of failing to take responsibility for their role. She said members of Congress were aware of the risks days before the attack, adding that some of her colleagues had warned her to be careful on Jan. 6.
“These folks that tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened or even telling us to apologize, these are the same tactics as abusers,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is not about a difference of political opinion. This is about basic humanity.”
During the social media event, which attracted more than 160,000 viewers, Ocasio-Cortez also disclosed that she was a survivor of sexual assault — an experience that, she said, made her “struggle with the idea of being believed.”
“How I felt was: Not again,” she said. “I’m not going to let this happen again.”
Republicans have been deeply divided in the wake of the Capitol attack, and mistrust across the aisle has been at near unprecedented highs in modern history. Democrats have openly expressed fear for their safety around some members of the GOP, and Republicans continue to battle out the future direction of their party after 10 of their House members voted to impeach Trump following the insurrection.”
Ocasio-Cortez used the live stream to re-up her calls for senators and House members who supported Trump’s challenges against the election results to resign. But if Republicans have been feeling any personal responsibility for the insurrection, they have yet to show it — a point the progressive congresswoman likened to abusive behavior.
“We cannot move on without accountability. We cannot heal without accountability,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And so all of these people who want to tell us to move on are doing so at their own convenience.”
What they are saying is that “‘I would do it again. I don’t regret it at all.’” she continued. “If that’s their stance, they continue to be a danger for their colleagues.”
Spokespeople for Hawley and Cruz did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ocasio-Cortez also spoke in detail about how she encountered hostile crowds in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, saying she often felt unsafe walking in public. She also described the day of the attack, at times choking up when she recalled hiding in her office as someone appeared to break in.
At one point, she described a man in a black beanie banging on her office doors and screaming, “Where is she?” As she hid in her office bathroom, she said, the man entered her personal office.
“I just thought to myself that they got inside,” she said. “I really just felt like, if this is the plan for me, then people will be able to take it from here.”
The man turned out to be a Capitol Police officer, but she said that the experience left her shaken and that the officer engaged in a “hostile” manner with her. She also said he gave her vague instructions on where to seek shelter, resulting in her and her staff wondering where to go.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After concluding her live stream, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter — where her Instagram appearance was trending — and wrote that her “story isn’t the only story, nor is it the central story of what happened on Jan 6th.“
“It is just one story of many of those whose lives were endangered at the Capitol by the lies, threats, and violence fanned by the cowardice of people who chose personal gain above democracy.”