US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Instagram Live on Monday night for an emotional broadcast recounting her experiences during the January 6 Capitol riots, admitting she had feared for her life.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said, visibly shaken as she recounted the day a group of pro-Donald Trump insurrectionists stormed the US Capitol. The riot ended with five dead and dozens of police officers injured.
The New York congresswoman demanded Republicans be held accountable for their role in influencing or encouraging the rioters.
AOC recounting her horrifying experience hiding in her office during the insurrection.— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) February 2, 2021
“I thought I was going to die…I have never been quieter in my entire life.” pic.twitter.com/t2P6FU3mFU
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said calls from Republican politicians, such as Ted Cruz, to “move on” are akin to abusive behaviour.
“The reason I’m getting emotional in this moment is because these folks who tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened, or even telling us to apologise, these are the same tactics of abusers,” she said.
“And I’m a survivor of sexual assault and I haven’t told many people that in my life.”
“When we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other,” she added.
In the late-night address that was viewed more than 350,000 times, Ms Ocasio-Cortez also shared new details about her movements during the riot.
The congresswoman hid in her office bathroom after hearing a man approaching her office aggressively yelling: “Where is she?”
“This was the moment where I thought everything was over,” she said. “I thought I was going to die.”
The man turned out to be a police officer, but Ms Ocasio-Cortez said this fact did not ease her fears.
“It didn’t feel right because he was looking at me with a tremendous amount of anger and hostility.”
The officer told her to run to another building, but didn’t tell her which one, she said.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez ended up barricaded inside congresswoman Katie Porter’s office, located in the Longworth House Office building, with furniture up against the doors.
While hidden inside the office, Ms Ocasio-Cortez changed into a pair of running shoes, borrowed from a staffer, as she had earlier been running through the building in heels.
The Capitol attack continues to reverberate in Congress, and has made it difficult for some Democrats to embrace President Joe Biden’s calls to seek common ground with Republicans.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez last week exchanged angry tweets with Mr Cruz when he said he agreed with her comments about recent stock market volatility.
“I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there’s common ground, but you almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out,” she wrote.
I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there’s common ground, but you almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 28, 2021
Happy to work w/ almost any other GOP that aren’t trying to get me killed.
In the meantime if you want to help, you can resign. https://t.co/4mVREbaqqm