Dispatches from inside the Capitol

Pro-Trump rioters swarmed the United States Capitol on Wednesday.
Pro-Trump rioters swarmed the United States Capitol on Wednesday.
vasilis asvestas/Shutterstock
Pro-Trump rioters swarmed the United States Capitol on Wednesday.

Dispatches from inside the Capitol

Members of Congress show what it’s like to be besieged.
January 7, 2021

When the siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump is remembered years from now, a few images will probably endure over others: rioters scaling the exterior walls of the building; “Keep America Great” flags cloaked in tear gas smoke on the spot where Trump was inaugurated four years ago; security officers aiming their guns out a barricaded door of the House chambers while a mob encroached.

But while the country relied mostly on the reporters and photojournalists on the scene to tell the story of the historic and disturbing attempt to overthrow the verified results of a free and fair election, lawmakers were also there to share their own stories. From those who were inside the locked-down chambers of Congress, barricaded in their offices or evacuated into undisclosed locations, here’s how some members of New York’s congressional delegation experienced the siege.

Rep. Grace Meng

“I was watching the marches on MSNBC, that scene with all the statues in a circular room. They probably didn’t know that I was in there. I was scared they would try to open every single door … scared to call anyone and talk out loud myself,” Meng told The City. The Queens lawmaker tweeted photos of her “DIY barricade” in a separate room in the Capitol.

Rep. Tom Suozzi

“Shots are being fired inside the Capitol chambers. Most people have evacuated. I feel surprisingly calm,” Suozzi said in a cell phone video he shot inside the House chamber. Suozzi ducks below rows of seats as police officers yell, “Everybody down!”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney

The Hudson Valley lawmaker tweeted from inside the House chamber, as lawmakers received word that tear gas was being used and were instructed to grab gas masks under their seats. Maloney tweeted photos of what looked like staff preparing to barricade the doors.

Rep. Paul Tonko

“As the crowd forced its way inside, the doors to our House chamber were locked and my colleagues and I were asked to hide under chairs to prevent being struck by stray bullets … When we were able to evacuate the House gallery, we did so by jumping over rows of chairs while wearing gas masks as officers barricaded the doors with guns drawn,” the Capital Region lawmaker tweeted Wednesday night.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez

“I saw the crowd of people going through the barricades … I saw people running, coming near the lawn of the Capitol. And so I immediately came back to my office, because at that moment we were getting notifications from the police to shelter,” Velazquez told The City.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney

“We were told to go to our offices and lock the door … It’s a historic day for all the wrong reasons … They scaled into the Capitol, smashing windows, took over the chambers,” Maloney told Vox podcast “Today, Explained” in an interview from inside her office at the Rayburn Building. 

Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
20210518