‘Violent domestic terrorists’
U.S. Rep. Newman recounts ‘tense’ ‘ attack on Capitol
By Steve Metsch
U.S. Rep. Marie Newman (D-3rd) was on the Capitol campus, in a safe place, when the riot broke out Jan. 6, but she’ll never forget that day.
“It was very tense,” she said in a phone interview Jan. 12 from Washington D.C. “Everything was going alone fine until it was clear that the Capitol Police were out-resourced and didn’t have enough backup.”
Newman said she surprised to learn later that requests for the National Guard were denied until later that day, long after the Capitol had been breached.
“The Trump Administration just didn’t want them there. They’re offering no explanation,” Newman said.
Those who attacked the Capitol, roaming the halls, breaking into offices and even onto the floor of the House Chamber “were violent domestic terrorists,” she said.
Newman will long recall seeing Nazi flags and people wearing T-shirts “with vile messages about every nationality, ethnicity and religion.”
“They were clear,” she said. “They wanted to hurt somebody. They wanted to take down democracy. They wanted to overturn the Constitution. They were insurrectionists.”
She said thousands of lives were in jeopardy “not just members of Congress, but there was staff there, maintenance teams. … It was the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever witnessed.”
U.S. Rep. Marie Neman (D-3rd) was shocked by what she saw in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. She’s shown here at a protest in support of postal workers in August. Photo by Steve Metsch.
Newman and her staff watched on TV images of people scaling the Capitol walls.
“There were T-shirts that said things I cannot repeat.,” Newman said. “There were Confederate flags. There were swastikas. I’ll give you a light version. A number were wearing Camp Auschwitz T-shirts (that read) ‘Wish they got more of them’ on the back. It’s horrifying.”
Auschwitz, of course, is the infamous concentration camp run by the Nazis, who killed 6 million Jews – along with others – in the Holocaust during World War II.
Despite the terrifying events of Jan. 6, Newman is confident the inauguration of Joe Biden will go on safely Jan. 20 with “a much better security plan” orchestrated by the Secret Service.
“We feel much better about security,” Newman said. “It’s very significant and a huge improvement and it will go on. I will be there with my husband, Jim.”
The wild turn of events took place just three days after Newman was sworn in for a two-year term in Congress. Asked if this was her baptism by fire, she laughed: “By definition, if you look it up, that’s what it was.”
In closing, she said “I want to assure everybody that there are much brighter days ahead. The Biden Administration and Congress have an excellent plan to get the vaccine distribution expedited equitably.” She added the next relief package for small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to soon be approved, too.
In a news release from her office on Jan. 7, Newman expressed concern for our nation, saying it “needs to heal.”
“It won’t be done in two weeks, two months or likely even two years but I’m confident we will move on from this painful moment in our history,” she wrote. “It will take each and every one of us working together to build a more kind, more just and more equitable nation for all Americans.”
On a local level, the stunning attack of Jan. 6 was on the minds of trustees of the Bridgeview Village Board, which met a few hours afterwards.
Trustee Claudette Struzik wondered if changes made in how votes were cast perhaps led to problems.
“If all these states didn’t start changing things. If they had left all the election stuff the way it was all these years, there wouldn’t be a protest,” Struzik said.
“But because they changed things, they made it look like it couldn’t possibly be legal, so (some) people are angry,” Struzik said. “They think it wasn’t legal. We’ll never know.”
Stuzik said she thought that while “most of the people were there to (peacefully) protest, you always have a faction that will do something else.”
“You get a couple thousand people together, you’re bound to get some people that are crazy. What did they think they were going to do?” she asked.
In the hall outside the village board meeting room, Trustee Michael Pticek was angered by the wild protests he called “stupid, just stupid.”
“Come on,” Pticek said. “We’ve got the best country in the world. What do you want to do something like that for? Give me a break.”
Asked about those who claim the Presidential election was stolen, Pticek said: “It’s done. (The) people have spoken. Deal with it. In four years, if (Biden) hasn’t done a good job, out with him.”
Trustee Norma Pinion said the day was “sad, very sad.”
Asked for a solution, Pinion replied: “Prayer. That’s the only thing.”