Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley has called on the country “to address the evil and scourge that is White supremacy,” one month after pro-Donald Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol.
“One of the images that I’m haunted by is the Black custodial staff cleaning up the mess left by that violent White supremacist mob,” the Massachusetts Democrat told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday, reflecting on her experience on Capitol Hill during the deadly siege on January 6.
“That is a metaphor for America. We have been cleaning up after violent, White supremacist mobs for generations and it must end.”
Flags, signs and symbols of racist, White supremacist and extremist groups were displayed along with Trump 2020 banners and American flags during the insurrection last month. It took such a “harrowing and traumatic” event, Pressley told Tapper, for many Americans to begin to recognize the threat of White supremacy.
The congresswoman’s comments come as the Senate is poised this week to hear arguments in Trump’s impeachment trial, where the chamber will consider whether to convict or acquit him on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection.” While the former President is expected to be acquitted for the second time, Pressley called on her colleagues in Congress to hold Trump accountable.
“If we really believe that this is a moment of reckoning in every way then we must act accordingly, and that means that Donald J. Trump must be held accountable because he is culpable for having incited this insurrection by perpetuating this ‘big lie,'” she said in reference to Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud and that the election was stolen from him.
“This House has twice done its job. He will forever be the twice-impeached President by this Democratic majority-led House,” she continued.
But it is not only an issue of impeachment or securing the Capitol, the congresswoman said.
“For those that continue to feign great surprise about what happened on January 6. As a Black woman, to be barricaded in my office, using office furniture and water bottles on the ground in the dark that terror, those moments of terror, is familiar in a deep and ancestral way for me,” Pressley said, referencing the racial history of Black Americans in the US.
“I want us to do everything to ensure that a breach like this never occurs at the Capitol, but I want us to address the evil and scourge that is White supremacy in this nation. This is not only about securing the Capitol to ensure that members and our staffs and custodial staff and food service workers are safe in the Capitol. It is that we are safe in America.”
CNN has previously reported that White Americans are receiving vaccinations for the coronavirus at much higher rates than Black and Latino Americans, despite data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing Black and Latino Americans are already dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of White people and being hospitalized at a rate four times higher.
Weighing in on those disparities Sunday, Pressley said while she is encouraged that there is a national strategy on distribution, she thinks more needs to be done.
“We knew early on what communities would be hardest hit because of unequal access to health care and the comorbidities of structural racism,” she told Tapper.