Austin Congressman Lloyd Doggett remembers Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack

As an angry mob advanced on and into the nation’s capital on January 6th, 2021, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) was walking across the street to his office in the Sam Rayburn building. 

"And so I saw the police officers race around the Capitol to deal with the insurgency on the Mall side of the Capitol," he said, speaking to FOX 7 Austin Wednesday about the one-year anniversary of the attack.

At the time he wasn't in the House, because COVID-19 protocols had limited attendance to representatives from states where election results were being challenged. Outside, supporters of Donald Trump had just left a nearby rally and moved on the Capitol to prevent the Electoral College count from being certified. 

"Well, I was shocked, I never could have anticipated anything like this," Doggett said. "We knew there would be disagreement and disturbance, but a violent attack on the Capitol that injures 141 police officers is just beyond comprehension." 

Authorities notified the congressman and his staff to barricade themselves in his office. 

"I didn't think anybody would be able to break into our office, but there was certainly fear among some of my staff members about this," he said.

The mob never reached them, and while Doggett never felt in danger, he remembers how many others were trapped in the chaos under the dome.

"And seeing and interacting with my colleagues, some of whom were sending messages home because they thought this would be their last moments on the earth, this is not what America is about, the damage to the building, to the people, but most of all the damage to our democracy," he said. 

The mass of people scaling the walls and the deadly confrontation at the door to the House chamber are among the lasting images for Doggett. Even in the insanity of the moment and the negative fallout that continues a year later, Doggett acknowledges that democracy prevailed that day.

"It's a powerful moment, that despite the violence, the deaths, and the injuries, we went forward that night and counted the vote," he said.

Moving forward has been difficult. The political polarization that triggered the Capitol attack remains. The challenge now, according to Doggett, is to find a way to allow compromise back into the process. 

"I think what we have to do is seek to make that happen, for us to be able to disagree agreeably, and at the core of this is the peaceful transition of power," he said. "We can’t win every election, and I don’t know if there is a commonality on that right now, the way we need it to be."

FOX 7 Austin has reached out to several Republican members of Congress. U.S. Rep John Carter (R-Round Rock) was unavailable. The staff for U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Austin) did not respond to requests for comment. 

On Thursday night, a group of Democrats will hold a candlelight vigil at the State Capitol to mark the anniversary of the attack in Washington DC and promote their stalled legislative agenda. The agenda includes an effort to strike down voter ID and blocking new state voter rules passed last year by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

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