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KARE 11: Minnesota lawmakers, officials reflect on anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection

Last year, hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. while Congress worked to certify the 2020 Electoral College vote count.

Elected leaders from Minnesota are observing the one year anniversary and condemning the actions of protesters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. 

Members of the Minnesota delegation who were in the Capitol that day said it is still difficult to process the notion that fellow Americans breached the seat of US government with the intention to block the peaceful transition of power. 

"The sergeant-at-arms took the microphone and stopped the proceedings, told us all to take cover, that rioters were in Capitol, in the Rotunda, tear gas had been used, that they were coming our way, to take cover behind chairs, and to put on our smoke hoods," Rep. Dean Phillips, the 3rd District Democrat, recalled. 

"I found it remarkable how unifying the feeling was inside the safe room with the Democrats and Republicans who’d just experienced this together. There was no denying what had just happened. Unfortunately, we've seen an erosion and dissipation on the other side of the aisle to do what's right." 

Sen. Tina Smith also lamented the loss of the urgency and unity people felt that day as they took cover, at the direction of Capitol Police officers. 

"A member of the Capitol Police threw open the door right next to my desk on the Senate floor told us to move and to get out of there, and we ran through the hallways and downstairs," Sen. Smith recalled. 

"It was really terrifying, and it was hard to process in the midst of everything that was going on, a violent attack on the US Capitol by people who wanted to stop the certification of our election." 

Thursday morning, Governor Tim Walz called the attack "an assault on our democracy" in a tweet and echoed President Biden's sentiments that the country needs to ensure a similar attack never happens again. 

In a speech on the Senate Floor Thursday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar recalled that in the heat of the moment, as people were being told to flee the Senate Chamber, a staff member was alert enough to save the electoral college ballots. 

"I remember the word of one staff member, Lee, who yelled out, 'Take the boxes! Take the boxes!' She was talking about the mahogany boxes that contained the electoral ballots because we knew they would be destroyed if they were left behind."  

Rep. Angie Craig, the 2nd District Democrat, was walking back to the Rayburn Office Building for an appointment that day when she received an alert on her cell phone. 

"I got an alert on my phone I should seek shelter as quickly as possible, turn off all my lights in my office, that I should make no noise and any staffer should remain until further directions," Rep. Craig told KARE. 

For the next few hours she sat quietly in her darkened office, watching nightmarish scenes play out in social media posts on her phone. 

"So many of my colleagues across the aisle the spoke out that day, but since they’ve backed away from acknowledging what happened. A group of people literally breached the US Capitol -- Americans -- entered the Capitol, attacked Capitol Police, and looked for members of Congress to harm." 

Sen. Tina Smith, who was also at the Capitol building last year, shared a lengthy thread, where she called on the January 6 Commission and the Justice Department to hold those responsible for the violence accountable. 

"And we must pass the Freedom to Vote Act, fulfilling the promise of our nation, giving the people the power to decide," she tweeted. 

Sen Klobuchar also released the following statement: 

“When an angry violent mob staged an insurrection on January 6th and desecrated our Capitol — the temple of our democracy — it was not just an attack on the building, it was an attack on our Republic itself. Yet thanks to the heroism of the Capitol Police and other law enforcement officers, we were able to resume our work and every state’s certified electoral votes were counted. Under unimaginable circumstances, democracy prevailed. A year after that dark day, our hearts remain heavy as we think of the law enforcement officers who lost their lives or suffered injuries. It is due to their bravery that we were able to facilitate a peaceful transition of power, and we will forever be grateful.” 

KARE also reached out to all four Republican members of Minnesota's congressional delegation over the past two days. As of Thursday evening, none of them had responded to the invitations to speak. 

Thursday morning, MN GOP Chairman David Hann also released a statement on what he called "the DFL's latest false, partisan attacks," writing "It is a sad example of the DFL trying to distract the public from the abject failures in governance by Democrats under President Biden in D.C. and Gov. Tim Walz here in Minnesota." 

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon issued a statement that reads, in part, "With the attack on the U.S. Capitol still a fresh wound, we need to defend democracy, protect the freedom to vote, and push back against disinformation about our elections. Part of that requires Congress to set minimum standards to safeguard our elections. But all of us can do our part to strengthen the well-earned confidence in our system – which is a model for the rest of the world. I believe we’ll succeed." 

Minnesota lawmakers, officials reflect on anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection 
January 7, 2022 – Kare 11 
By Bill Strande