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Excerpt From Long Island Rep. Suozzi’s Escape From The U.S. Capitol

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y.
Alex Brandon
N.Y. Rep. Tom Suozzi

U.S. Representative Tom Suozzi from Long Island was among federal lawmakers rushed from the U.S. Capitol building to a secure location. He said protesters banged on the door to the House floor, and Capitol police had their guns drawn during his escape. Here’s his personal account:

“I was in the chambers when the Capitol was breached. The debate was going on. There was a Republican member of Congress making an objection to the certification of the electoral results. We received notifications that the Capitol had been breached. We have been told to go under our chairs and get the gas masks that were under our chairs because tear gas had been used in the Rotunda or Statuary Hall already.

And we had a chaplain in Congress for prayer. And after that, as time went on, there was growing concern about the breach in the Capitol. And the doors were locked in the chambers.

People were told to be prepared to go underneath the chairs. And then there started to be some people banging at the doors. Capitol Police drew their weapons. There were dozens and dozens of Capitol Police inside the chambers and a little bit of commotion going on within the chamber.

I don't know if it was shots or if it was somebody banging something. But it was a pop pop pop type of thing.

  People were asked to please be quiet so they could listen to directions from the Capitol Police. Something broke through the main door, which is where the President enters for the State of the Union. There's a glass there; the glass was broken. I don't know if it was shots or if it was somebody banging something. But it was a “pop pop pop” type of thing. Some of the members of the chambers on the floor were escorted out first.

I was up in the gallery along with another bunch of members of Congress. We were the last people to actually leave the chamber. Then, at one point we were concerned that we couldn't exit. So we stayed in there which were 30 of us or so between staff and members that were in there, waiting to see if they would break through the doors. And the Capitol Police had their weapons drawn.

We finally were trying to determine which door we should try and leave because there are people out in the hallways, protesters that were out in the hallways. We finally left the chambers. And as I left the chambers, I saw several protesters on the floor surrounded by Capitol Police, more than several, probably at least six or eight or 10 on the floor.

We went downstairs through some of the labyrinth of the Capitol complex. And I can't really tell you where I am now. People are sheltering in place where it's safe, we believe. I feel very strongly that we have to get back to the chambers. And we have to certify this election. And we have to deem Joe Biden and Kamala Harris President and Vice President of the United States of America.

I feel very strongly that we have to get back to the chambers. And we have to certify this election. And we have to deem Joe Biden and Kamala Harris President and Vice President of the United States of America.

  What we saw today, you know, I disagree very strongly with my colleagues who are objecting to this electoral process, but it was a debate on the floor. And that's what we do in our country. We debate. Outside, there were protests and protests are okay too, but not violent protests and this violence that we're seeing is completely unacceptable.

And the President fomenting this and others fomenting this is completely lawless, irresponsible, and we must get back to the chambers. And we must certify this election as fast as possible, and show the country and the world that our democracy will continue to survive and thrive.

Even in the midst of this lawlessness, we can always rely on our values, and we have to stick with our values. And we cannot allow sons and violent people to try and change the way our country works.

So, Joe Biden will be the president of the United States of America. That will happen. We will move forward, and we will restore the soul of America. But we need to get back to the chambers and certify that as soon as possible. I don't know if it can happen today because of the security concerns. But I'd like to see it happen today if at all possible.

I was very saddened really. I didn't feel scared to tell you the truth. But I felt that it was a very scary time for our nation's history. And I felt secure because of the Capitol Police, quite frankly.

And I was concerned about some of my colleagues that were scared. And I just feel it's a very sad day for our country, that it's come to this and that people would be so irresponsible, to try and foment this type of feeling. You know, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle that fomented these objections have said that they never thought it would succeed. Yet they continue to go through this farce.

That's completely irresponsible and no basis in law whatsoever. It actually is against what the Constitution said. This is the responsibility of states and local governments, not the job of the Congress.

The only job of the Congress is to count the ballots that were sent from the electors from the state. It's just so irresponsible. And I don't know that people realize, you know, how irresponsible this was and what good results came because of their behavior. So I'm hoping people will come together now and return to the structure that our country has set up for democracy.”

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.