By Steve Metsch
Cong. Marie Newman (D-3 rd ) 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 Tuesday 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 was 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.”
“ 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.”
She said that she remained “in disbelief from the events that took place.”
“ The United States Capitol was broken into, vandalized, desecrated and forced into lockdown due to violent, vicious domestic terrorists who did not want this nation to uphold the will of the voters,” Newman said.
“ I appreciate all who reached out to me and my team throughout the day to ensure that we were safe,” she said. “As dark as (Jan. 6), I know that our nation will prevail.”
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.”
Newman stressed that the attack “was the direct result of the dangerous, inciteful rhetoric that Donald Trump and Republican members of the House and Senate have been spewing for months.”
Articles of impeachment were being discussed as of Monday against President Trump, who would become the first President to have been impeached twice. The sooner he is out of office, the better, Newman said.
“ As for President Trump, this nation does not have the luxury of waiting two more weeks for him to leave office,” she said in the release. “The 25th Amendment needs to be invoked immediately. He needs to be impeached immediately. He needs to resign immediately. The safety of this country depends on it.”
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 Springfield, Illinois State Police and Secretary of State Capitol Police Force this week increased security around the state Capitol and Bank of Springfield, where the Illinois House has been meeting during the pandemic, as lawmakers began a lame duck session.
The Secretary of State Capitol Police force is assigned to the nine buildings comprising the State Capitol Complex. Security at the Bank of Springfield Center falls under the purview of the Illinois State Police.
Every entry point at the Capitol Complex is staffed with at least one armed Capitol Police officer.
The Secretary of State Capitol Police was established by the Illinois General Assembly after a gunman fatally shot state Capitol security guard Bill Wozniak in September 2004. When the shooting took place, the General Assembly was not in session.
Sarah Mansur of Capitol News Illinois contributed to this report.