BY ROSE WELDON & ROBERT PELAEZ
Local representatives were caught in the middle when a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., bringing a sudden halt to the arguments concerning electoral votes over President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), both present in the Capitol at the time, both reported that they and their staffs were safe.
Suozzi said on a press call from an undisclosed location on Wednesday afternoon that during the counting, during which he and his staffers were in the gallery above the chamber, members of the House and their staffs were notified that the Capitol had been breached.
“We were told to go under our chairs and get the gas masks that were under our chairs because gas had been used on the door in Statuary Hall already,” he said, referring to the room outside the House chamber. “People were told to be prepared to duck underneath the chairs, and there started to be some banging on the doors.”
As they were in the gallery, Suozzi said he and his staff were among the last people to evacuate, and that they heard a “pop-pop-pop” noise as they tried to decide how to exit the House chamber. He clarified that he did not know if the noises were gunshots or tear gas.
“As I left the chambers, I saw several protesters on the floor surrounded by Capitol police,” he said. “We went downstairs, through some of the labyrinths of the Capitol complex. And I can’t really tell you where I am now.”
Shots fired in the Capitol: something I never thought I would witness. The madness is over. The healing must now begin. pic.twitter.com/QE1GPdGF9G
— Tom Suozzi (@RepTomSuozzi) January 7, 2021
From where he was, he said he could see representatives and staffers huddled in corners, attempting to call their families or others. He later tweeted a video once representatives began returning to their chambers.
Rice only tweeted shortly after 4 p.m. on Wednesday: “For those asking, my staff and I are safe. Thank you.”
Earlier in the day, she had declared over Twitter that the election that saw Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris win, would be certified. Once representatives returned to their chambers, they overwhelmingly voted to certify Biden’s victory.
Suozzi said that President Trump was “absolutely responsible” for the chaos, and called his actions “morally reprehensible.”
“I disagree very strongly with my colleagues who are objecting to this,” Suozzi said. “But it was a debate on the floor. And that’s what we do in our country. There was protest and protest is okay, too, but not violent protests. And this violence we’re seeing is completely unacceptable.”
Regarding the actions of members of the House and Senate attempting to overturn the election results, Suozzi said that his “colleagues on the other side of the aisle that implemented 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,” Suozzi said.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran touted safety over politics in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
“For hundreds of years, the peaceful transition of power has been a foundation of our Country,” Curran said. “It doesn’t matter who you voted for – violence like what we are seeing in Washington today should never be accepted in a free society. This is not about politics, this is about safety, freedom and decency. I am lending my voice in support of law enforcement who are keeping everyone safe.”
Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman said his thoughts go out to all the elected officials, their staffers, press, and law enforcement during the invasion of the Capitol.
“The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is deeply disturbing,” Schnirman said in a statement. “We are a nation of laws and the peaceful transfer of power is one of the most critical values in our democracy. Being an American is about protecting democracy, regardless of politics.”
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) became the Senate Majority Leader during the attacks when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won seats in Georgia, regaining control of the Senate for the party. He released a joint tweet between him and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) regarding the events.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli expressed the need to progress as a nation, rather than become more divided in a tweet.
“Peaceful protests are one of the hallmarks of our democracy, but what is going on now in DC is just plain wrong,” DiNapoli tweeted. “We are better than this. It is time to come together and move our country forward.”
“We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately,” the tweet read.
Biden called on President Trump to command protestors to disperse from the Capitol and demanded “an end to this siege.”
“An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself,” Biden said. “An assault on the people’s representatives and the Capitol Hill police sworn to protect them, and the public servants who work at the heart of our republic.”
Trump released a video urging protestors to disperse from the Capitol more than two hours after the breaking and entering began. Aside from mentioning that law and order should prevail, Trump harked on his claims of a “rigged election” as a reason why protestors broke into and stormed the Capitol.
“You have to go home now,” he said. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anyone hurt. It’s a very tough period of time, there’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us.”
“We cannot allow thugs and violent people to try and change the way our country works,” Suozzi said.