In Viral House Floor Speech, Phillips Appeals to the Better Angels of his House Colleagues and Country

February 4, 2021
Press Release
Phillips: "I’m not here this evening seeking sympathy - rather to make a public apology."

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) joined a special order hour organized by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to share their experiences of January 6, 2021 when the was subject to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that led to the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and the first breach of the institution since the War of 1812.

WATCH: Rep. Phillips speaks on the House Floor

Remarks as prepared:

“Let me start by addressing those who have dismissed, minimized, or criticized the experience of ANYONE who has experienced trauma of any type, at any time, in any form.

I take pity on you and I say shame on you.

I was in this very room on January 6th - one of twenty colleagues up in the gallery who took cover behind our seats and struggled to activate our gas masks - the whirring sounds of which none of us will ever forget.

We know the sound of the breaking glass, the screams, and the furniture being shoved in front of the doors.

We know the feeling of being trapped and believing being taken hostage may be the BEST case scenario.

We know what it feels like searching for something with which to defend ourselves and realizing a pencil is all we have.

And we know what it feels like thinking it’s a real possibility we will never see our families and loved ones ever again.

But I’m not here this evening seeking sympathy - rather to make a public apology.

Recognizing that we were sitting ducks as the chamber was about to be breached, I screamed to my colleagues to follow me across the aisle to the Republican side of the chamber “so we could blend in”.

“So we could blend in.”

I felt that the insurrectionists who were trying to break down the doors would spare us if they simply mistook us for Republicans.

But within moments I recognized that “blending in” was not an option for my colleagues of color.

So I’m here tonight to say to my brothers and sisters in Congress and all around the country; I AM SORRY.

I had not understood - really understood - what privilege really means.

It took a violent mob of insurrectionists and a lightning bolt moment in this very room - but now I know. Now I really know.

But I close with an invitation - a hopeful invitation - to everyone watching or listening, whether you experienced January 6th in this room, whether you were barricaded in an office across the street, or whether you experienced it through a television screen, please do not allow that day to change you for the worse - rather find something in it to improve yourself, to improve our country, and to improve our world.

I did. And I hope you’ll join me.” 

###