One year later, El Paso leaders reflect on January 6, 2021

Politics

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – It’s been one year since rioters breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and leaders from around the country and the El Paso area shared their thoughts, one year on.

On that day, Congress was in the process of counting electoral votes and formalizing President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump when the Capitol was breached, forcing Congress to adjourn and evacuate.

Todd Curry, associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso says that day is an example of the political divide in the country.

“I think really the biggest takeaway in the wake of the January 6 riot is … very clear how divided and divisive our politics are in current times,” Curry said.

Curry said “nothing has been done” since the riots took place, and adds that we won’t see any systematic changes to our voting system before the 2022 elections.

“Really, the reason why I say nothing has been done is no laws substance of laws have been passed — the Voting Rights Act or at least what has been touted as the new Voting Rights Act simply hasn’t made it through Congress, and it won’t as long as Republicans have the ability to filibuster in the Senate, it’s not going to make it through Congress,” Curry said.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, was in the gallery at the Capitol the day of the breach, taking cover. As it turned out, she was among the last members of Congress and members of the press who were evacuated that day.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar crouching down in the gallery at the Capitol on January 6, 2021

“I still feel terror, but the terror I feel is for our democracy. I really truly feel that this is the year that we either continue to maintain our democracy, or we lose it and Congress has to act. And while the house of representatives has acted, the Senate has not, the Senate has really failed. We have to hold them accountable we have to push them,” the El Paso congresswoman said.

Escobar vividly remembers what it was like as she was in the gallery as the rioters made their way inside the capitol.

“I remember the sounds of the mob, I remember the gunshot, I remember the sound of breaking glass, I remember seeing the face of one of the insurrectionists whose face could be seen on the other side of that glass on the other side of that furniture that was protecting us,” Escobar said.

Escobar added that she hasn’t gotten any information from the FBI about the investigation into El Pasoans who participated in the breach of the Capitol.

“I know that there were El Pasoans who were here at the rally. Now I will tell you participating in the rally is one thing, but I also know there were members of our community who breached the Capitol and were inside the Capitol that day,” Escobar said.

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, can be seen helping to barricade door at the Capitol on January 6, 2021

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, was also inside the gallery the day of the breach.

Gonzales, whose district stretches from El Paso to San Antonio, can be seen in photos helping to barricade the door. He sent KTSM 9 News the following statement on the one-year anniversary:

“January 6 was a dark day for our Capitol. I was proud to stand with U.S. Capitol Police as protesters tried to take the House. Protests that day should have never reached that level of violence.

A year later we have no answers to why the Capitol was left vulnerable to these attacks or how to prevent another incident like this. Instead it has been made into a partisan issue. When I return to the Capitol next week, I look forward to continuing to fight for issues important to my district, like our border crisis and rising inflation. 

I have taken the oath to defend our constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic, twice: when I joined the Navy and then when I was sworn into office. Whether I am in uniform or in Congress, I will always put our country first.”

Throughout the day, many gathered to remember the events of January 6. President Biden warned of the dangers Trump and his supporters pose.

The president forcefully blamed Donald Trump and his supporters Thursday for holding a “dagger at the throat of democracy” with election lies that sparked last year’s deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, using the anniversary of the attack to warn that America’s system of government remains under urgent threat.

For his part, the former president and his allies on Thursday clung to false claims about the 2020 election.

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