‘This year has been a nightmare.’ Thursday marks 1 year since riot at US Capitol
Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the riot at the United States Capitol. The event is considered by some to be an assault on the nation’s democracy.
A Capitol police officer, who is a New Jersey native, lost his life during the riot doing his job protecting the building and the lawmakers inside.
Officer Brian Sicknick grew up in South River. He was working on Jan. 6, 2021, and was among the police officers trying to push back the mob that was attempting to stop the certification of Joe Biden as president.
Sicknick would collapse at the Capitol that evening after suffering two strokes. The 42-year-old would die the next day. He was one of five people who died during the riot.
One of the people who Sicknick was protecting at the Capitol on that day was Rep. Andy Kim. Kim was shocked at what he saw take place at the urging of former President Donald Trump and expected others to feel the same.
“I held my breath, hoping that at least this would be something that would bring us together. That it would be a shock to the system,” Kim says.
He says that instead, he has seen the opposite – an increase of the division on Capitol Hill.
“This has year has been a nightmare here at the Capitol. Not just Jan. 6, but every day since,” says Kim. “The level of toxicity here is just beyond reproach, it’s so horrible. Colleagues screaming at each other in hallways. Everyone at each other’s throats.”
When the riot was over, Kim unintentionally provided a lasting image. He was captured in a photo cleaning the Capitol rotunda.
“I just couldn’t leave that room in that condition. It was very instinctual,” says Kim. “Look, it was a very unremarkable action. It’s something I hope most Americans would’ve done.”
The Capitol Police Force is still trying to rebound from the event. Four of the officers who responded on that day have died by suicide and 130 officers have retired or resigned. But improvements have been made.
“The U.S. Capitol as an organization is stronger and better prepared today to carry out its mission that it was before Jan. 6 of last year,” says Chief Thomas Manger.
President Biden will mark the anniversary on Thursday.
“The president is going to speak to the truth of what happened, not the lies that some have spread since and the imperil it has posed to the rule of law and our system of democratic governance,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Biden will also be thanking Capitol police offices like Sicknick who are considered heroes.
Reflecting on last year, Rep. Kim continues to ask himself, “How do we heal?” He believes those who work in the Capitol must remember that theirs is a job of service.