Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Isn’t Going To Shut Up About How You Almost Got Her Killed
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hasn't been shy about how traumatic the January 6 Capitol siege was for her. She's admitted she thought she was going to die that day. She's also shown no interest in returning to business as usual. Senator and punch-clock villain Ted Cruz tried to engage her last week for his own ends and she made it clear that she believed his rhetoric preceding the attack almost got her murdered.
Ocasio-Cortez wasn't sure she could go into detail about her experience because of security concerns. However, she opened up further Tuesday during an Instagram Live.
.@AOC goes on to cry while talking about how she thought she was literally going to die. It's really fucking heartb… https://t.co/j9sRpLegtl— Ryan Khosravi ✨ (@Ryan Khosravi ✨)1612235951.0
The threat had been building for weeks prior to January 6. We all saw what President Joe Biden's grotesque predecessor was instigating, and his congressional stooges were enabling. Ocasio-Cortez said the days leading up to the attack "felt actively volatile and dangerous." Capitol Police leadership reportedly told her that they were prepared. They were wrong. A violent mob stormed the Capitol and soon Ocasio-Cortez was hiding in her office bathroom.
AOC: I hear these huge, violent bangs on my door, and then every door going into my office. Just bang, bang, bang ... like someone was trying to break the door down. [...]
I jump into the bathroom and I immediately realize that I shouldn't have have gone into the bathroom. I should've jumped into the closet. And so I open the door when all of a sudden I hear that whoever was trying to get inside got into my office. And then I start to hear these yells: “Where is she? Where is she?" And I just thought to myself, “They got inside." And this was the moment where I thought everything was over.
Ocasio-Cortez receives so many death threats her staff performs visitor risk assessments. Republicans, especially the previous White House squatter, have actively demonized her. She doesn't just have political views they don't like. No, she's an existential threat to democracy. This rhetoric has an impact. A Texas man, who was charged with participating in the attempted insurrection, sent Ocasio-Cortez another death threat.
"We acted with honor and we were not armed. We [were] gentle with the police. They murdered a child," he wrote, before adding, "Assassinate AOC."
The person who entered Ocasio-Cortez's office was a Capitol Police officer, but he failed to identify himself. She claims that when she emerged from hiding, the officer greeted her and a staffer with "a tremendous amount of anger and hostility." That's not a shock.
AOC: We couldn't even tell or read if this was a good situation or bad situation. It didn't feel okay.
More appalling is that the officer evacuated a member of Congress to another building and sort of left her there. He didn't give clear instructions on where to go. He was like a bad field trip chaperone but during a violent insurrection. Ocasio-Cortez was forced to fend for herself as the mob threatened to break inside.
AOC: I hear the hinges cracking.
She eventually sought shelter with Rep. Katie Porter, who discussed the events on Monday's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell."
Thank you @katieporteroc for holding it down that day 💜 you’re a wonderful friend https://t.co/UvvZKDYwEr— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1612240450.0
PORTER: The two memories, especially as a mom, that are really powerful for me is when I said, “Don't worry. I'm a mom. I'm calm. I've got everything we need. We can live for like a month in this office," and she said, "I just hope I get to be a mom, I hope I don't die today.'"
Ocasio-Cortez's fears weren't exaggerated. This mob was out for blood, and the same Republicans who mourn broken windows in a downtown Portland, Oregon, storefront have expressed zero empathy for their colleague. Cruz even called the Democratic push to hold the insurrectionist in chief accountable for his actions “vindictive." Although this is certainly “true to form," Ocasio-Cortez still held out hope for a different response.
AOC: In these past three weeks, I felt it was important to give a window of opportunity. Maybe in some world, Senator Josh Hawley and Senator Ted Cruz or Rep. Mo Brooks would say, “You know what? I was mistaken. I did not fully realize what the impact of my actions was going to be. And now, in retrospect, I see that it incited something I never wanted to incite. And for that am I sorry." But no! They've had almost a month, and they haven't said that. They have doubled down. And they said, “I did the right thing, and if I could go back, I would do it all over again." So that tells me these people remain a present danger.
She's right. Republicans, especially craven opportunists like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, want everyone to forgive, forget, and move on, because they lack the capacity for shame and wouldn't hesitate to once again endanger the lives of their colleagues to score a cheap, political point.
Ocasio-Cortez movingly shared that she's a survivor of sexual assault, and she can recognize abuser tactics, such as minimizing and downplaying someone's trauma. Cruz has dismissed Ocasio-Cortez as angry, and Rep. Chip Roy was repulsive enough to demand that she apologize to Cruz. However, Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to shut up, because, as Zora Neale Hurston said, "If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."