Soto Gives Personal Account of Insurrection on House Floor
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09) gave a personal account of the events that took place on January 6, 2021, with a poem called “A Bird's Eye View to Insurrection.”
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“Madam Speaker, I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about my personal account like so many other members have, on the day of January 6th. I do so in a poetic, artistic form with a poem, A Bird's Eye View to Insurrection.
“The day started with the humdrum noises of a mundane process.
“Mahogany boxes were presented, papers shuffled, and gavels knocked.
“But the process of the day was everything,
“The hearing of voices, the counting of votes, the sum of democracy.
“I had a bird’s eye view from the gallery
“And on that day, we were in the final steps, the technocratic certification. We were electing a President.
“Meanwhile at the ellipses, at base camp, another scene ensued.
“A President spewed hateful lies, violence was incited, and a fuse was lit.
“Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, stop.
“Objections were raised, debates began, and passions heated.
“A text reads, “Capitol Complex breached.”
“I rest assured. I am in the safest place on earth, for the people’s House has never fallen.
“I call my wife to tell her we are safe.
“No thought of danger permeates. I am convinced of my safety, and I listen to more speeches.
“A text reads, “Capitol Dome breached.”
“Pence and Pelosi, Hoyer and McCarthy, one by one they were escorted out.
“The debate continued. The people’s representatives continued, and Jim McGovern presided.
“Debate yields to a prayer by the chaplain.
“I am uneasy. Fear is in the air, and the members evacuate the House floor.
“We dozen or so remain in the gallery, stranded.
“Banging, banging, banging on the doors.
“The insurrections are at the chamber, gas masks are deployed, and we are surrounded.
“Welch and Gomez, Crow and DeLauro, Himes and Costa, Thompson and Wild, Johnson and I.
“Together we flee- over chairs, under railings, to the door.
“We are trapped.
“Bang, bang, bang! Bang, bang, bang! Get down! The orders rang!
“Guns, flash bombs, tear gas.
“Which sounds these are, I do not know, as Capitol Police stand as Sentinels to protect us.
“Get down! Get down again! So we did.
“I lie flat, behind flimsy plastic seat coverings - no match for bullets, contemplating my mortality.
“I realize finally and truly in this moment I could die.
“Army rangers rise, we lawyers take cover, and old souls sit relaxed, waiting peacefully, perhaps for the inevitable
“I am cerebral and imagining.
“I do not even hear the gunshot, mortally wounding a terrorist. And the chamber finally defended with urgency.
“Meanwhile, the Senate chamber falls without a shot fired.
“Police bang the doors, the doors bang back. Who lurks on the outside?
“Confusion changes to clarity and now there’s one, and only one, way out.
“Up we go and out the door. Terrorists lay flat with guns drawn upon them, as they look at us with killers’ eyes.
“Democracy and I may die, but not today.
“Down, down, down the stairs we go, cell phones light up, and the worlds see proof of my life as I flee live on PBS.
“This is absurd, fantastical, yet nonetheless very much happening.
“Down into to the tunnels we go.
“Flanked by guardians, we keep moving, Demings made it too and we rejoice.
“Up, up, up the stairs we go.
“We are in a room now. They describe it as safe, and we congregate in herds like cattle.
“I feel part relieved and uneasy.
“Instigators and innocent, masked and maskless, members and staff, we wait together.
“A community prayer ensues.
“I call my wife. I have made it. At least, I am mostly sure.
“COVID-19 lurks as a silent killer in the room.
“Partisan cliques form, realizations begin and an awkward casualness attempts to take hold.
“Guilt, blame, excuses, and outrage begin to form.
“Because of course, we told you so.
“Of course, dangerous rhetoric turns to violence, as the seeds of despicable lies finally grow to insurrection.
“I start to contemplate.
“I am hungry, I am thirsty and I am suspicious of certain colleagues.
“Gomez and I leave the safe room for our offices on gut feelings alone.
“I am vaccinated. I am eventually vindicated. As days later, some colleagues are sick with COVID-19.
“Other colleagues gave it to them, maskless and without remorse.
“I return to our Rayburn sanctuary. I am greeted with anxious smiles. My staff is safe.
“We share the events of the great happening, the terrible.
“We watch the news, we see the mob in all its horror and the assailing of the Capitol walls.
“We are in disbelief.
“Capitol police fight in hand to hand combat. They are outnumbered, and beaten by flags that say “MAGA”, “Trump” and “Back the Blue.”
“There is a vicious irony.
“Now hunger reminds us. Snacks are procured and we eat creatively in fellowship.
“The hours go by in frightful minutes as our eyes remain glued to the television.
“Brave cooks open the cafeteria, police keep their posts and my staff remain safe in the Capitol offices with me.
“We finally have a real meal.
“The decision has been made. We will return to the chamber and we will do our duty.
“Arizona receives its objection, and it goes down.
“Arkansas, California, Colorado, go by as Pence picks up momentum.
“We have a standoff, on Pennsylvania.
“Debates ensue. Liars are called out and angered. A second fight almost happens, but no one really wants to take on NFL linebacker Colin Allred.
“Midnight passes us as we wait.
“I venture forth, I return to the scene of crimes and again I watch the final mahogany boxes in motion.
“West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Pence begins to conclude his remarks.
“There is a slight mix of anger, disappointment and resoluteness in his face.
“Pence fulfills his constitutional duty.
“Speaker Pelosi smiles slightly. She is graceful and marks the seriousness of the day’s events.
“A domestic terrorist plot has been foiled.
“I am alive, the Congress is alive and thank the God Almighty, Democracy is alive.
“America must remember this day, learn from it, lest we repeat it.
“Thank you Madam Speaker, and I yield back.”