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As anniversary approaches, Rep. Tonko reflects on Capitol insurrection

Tonko recounted his experiences inside the House Gallery last year on a virtual press conference Tuesday.
Zoom screenshot
Tonko recounted his experiences inside the House Gallery last year on a virtual press conference Tuesday.

New York Congressman Paul Tonko is marking the anniversary of the January 6th U.S. Capitol siege.

Tonko recounted his experiences inside the House Gallery last year on a virtual press conference Tuesday.

The Democrat from the 20th district says while Congress was in session, it became "apparent that something unusual might be underway..."

“And as the crowd began to get louder and louder, you realize that there was an attack on the Capitol," Tonko said. "You started to witness everyone being removed from the House floor. We were somewhat trapped in that gallery setting. And saw them barricading the doorways that were access to the second floor, House chamber. And began to hear a lot of you know, the noise got louder and louder. You heard that, you know, there were warnings there were guns, there were gunshots, there were, you know, concerns about different types of equipment that people might have and witnessed, like a shot that came right outside the chamber, floor, chamber itself, at the doorway..."

Tonko characterized the experience as frightening, and said he immediately understood that American democracy must be protected.

“I think we do that by making certain that we strengthen access to the voting booth, that we make certain that there are efforts like the John Lewis Voting Right Act, and For the People Act that provide for the guidelines and strengtheners of the voting process and the campaign process in general," said Tonko. "And the legislative process that would, I think, for make for a sounder outcome, and I think that that's all very essential in light of the events just about a year ago.”

Tonko says a healing process is still required, adding even though the foundation of our democracy withstood the test, there is plenty to learn from the riot.

“And we must take all the information we can get done through the select committee, and share it with the public," said Tonko. "You know, cross examine as many as are available, and there are many, many witnesses that are being secured here. That will give us our path forward. And, you know, it. It's, it's that important, I think, to our democracy that we do this work, and do it with very sound professionalism, and thoroughness that will respond to the needs of the public and the generations of Americans that will follow us.”

The fallout from January 6 continues. Dozens of arrests and convictions have been made and there are said to be hundreds of individuals still facing charges.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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