Former Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman sees danger, disparity and need for arrests in day’s events
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., was in the House gallery when protesters began to enter the building.
Bass, who was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019 and 2020, had anticipated that Wednesday would be difficult, but nothing like this. Many of Washington’s streets were closed. And Bass, like many other Black people in Washington she knows, had resolved to avoid walking anywhere. To Bass, a crowd insisting that President Donald Trump remain in office and that the results of the election should not be certified represented a possible threat to her safety.
“Myself, as an African American, I know who this crowd is. We as a group know who this crowd is,” Bass said of the people who breached the Capitol, broke windows, removed fixtures and snapped photos of themselves in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, forcing members of Congress to evacuate. “Some of them have Trump flags. They could have Klan flags.”
However, when the Capitol building was breached, Bass began to wonder how.
“I mean, can you imagine if this was Black Lives Matter? Can you for one moment imagine what would happen?” Bass said, echoing a set of ideas swirling on social media. “This entire episode, it needs to be investigated,” she added. “You can’t get into this building with a backpack, much less a flagpole. I think we need to know if they were helped or somehow allowed in.”
Bass said she believes most of the rioters have been caught on video and should be prosecuted. When asked about Trump’s part in the day’s events, Bass said that the last time she checked, “inciting a riot” is a crime.
“I know some of my colleagues are calling for the 25th Amendment or this, that or the other,” Bass said. “I don’t know. I mean, for the 25th Amendment, you have to have the Cabinet to go along with it. And the Cabinet, this Cabinet, are cult followers, too. … This president has really embarrassed us in front of the entire world. I just count the days and the hours until we can get to Jan. 20.”
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