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One Year Later, Maryland Congressmen Mfume and Ruppersberger Reflect on Jan. 6 Insurrection

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Two Maryland congressmen are reflecting back on the January 6th insurrection a year after it happened.

"You know it's something you'd like to think is a nightmare that didn't happen but it did happen," said Congressman Kweisi Mfume.

On that day, Mfume recalled counting votes to certify the election and then heard people banging at the door to the house floor. He then went down to the basement of the Capitol to get to his office and along the way, saw people running and yelling and then heard a noise he had never heard before.

"I heard the sirens as I got halfway got through the tunnel and I realized something was really wrong. I'd never heard those sirens," he said.

The congressman went to his office and deadbolted the door and tried to calm his staff down and waited for instructions from the Capitol Police.

He said what he was experiencing then reminded him of Ku Klux Klan rallies he saw as a child.

"Having seen what I saw in the eyes of those protesters harkened me to think back to long ago when I was just a boy and the sort of hatred that I saw in the eyes of Klan sympathizers who just were just hellbent with their confederate flags to undo the progress of the day."

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger was in his office which faces the Capitol and he recalls seeing a crowd that kept growing.

"It looked strange that we still had more people showing up, rioters basically, and then we started to see the Washington D.C. police come and we're thinking this thing looks like it's getting out of hand and then next thing you know we were in a full-fledged riot" said Congressman Ruppersberger.

Ruppersberger said he was surprised by the lack of law enforcement as the situation unfolded.

"The F.B.I., who gave intelligence to the police, were told really we don't need you, this is the nation's Capitol, we want to keep it open. And as a result of that decision, we allowed, basically, an insurrection to keep growing and to occur."

Both congressmen and their staff waited in their offices for hours until they were told it was safe to leave.

"It was one of the worst days in the history of our country," said Congressman Ruppersberger. "It was an insurrection of the United States of America. We believe in democracy and democracy was being beaten down by the President of the United States and his people."

Going forward, Mfume says the country has to be strong and resilient against people who seek to do away with democracy.

"The real issue here is the democracy, keeping it sacred so that everybody can participate, everybody can vote and that every vote will be counted," said Congressman Mfume.

A select committee of the House of Representatives is continuing its investigation into the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The committee will soon present their findings in a report to the attorney general who will then decide the next steps.

Mfume said he hopes that more people in power will be held accountable for the events that happened during the attack.

"I hope those next steps mean that there will be charges in an effort to prosecute all of those at the highest level, who had something to do with the orchestration of this, who has something to do with perpetration of it and who to this day continue to call it a big lie, that there wasn't a real election," he said.

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