For Black Aides on Capitol Hill, Jan. 6 Brought Particular Trauma

Black congressional staff members said the attack brought back memories of how they had tried to avoid people they felt could be prone to racist violence — only to find them at their place of work.

By: Luke Broadwater, New York Times

Symbols of racism and white supremacy were on full display at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Rioters paraded the Confederate battle flag through the halls. One man wore a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt, while others flew the flag of the fictional country Kekistan, which mimics a Nazi war flag.

Black Capitol Police officers have described the intense racism they endured from the mob; one told Buzzfeed News he was called a racist slur 15 times, causing him to break down in tears.

For some Black staff members, the Capitol attack brought back memories of how they had tried to avoid people they felt could be prone to racist violence — only to find them at their place of work.

From left, Jabir McKnight, Mike McQuerry and Remmington Belford, aides to members of Congress, were at work on Capitol Hill during the mob attack on Jan. 6.
Brandon Bell for The New York Times

Aides who represent members of color said they were well aware that Black lawmakers could be targeted because “our members are some of the most vocal against Trump’s harmful and divisive practices,” Mr. Belford said. “The fear was very present. We cannot blend in. We cannot not be visible. Our skin color often becomes a target.”

They were reminded this week of the threats to lawmakers when a top security official suggested on Tuesday that members of Congress consider upgrading their home security systems to include panic buttons and key fobs. In a lengthy memo sent to House lawmakers and their aides, Timothy P. Blodgett, the acting sergeant-at-arms, reiterated measures that he advised lawmakers to take to protect their Washington and district offices as well as their homes.

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