The Massachusetts Democrat pointed out that the Capitol riot was not the result of a single President, but decades of systemic racism.
On an episode of State of the Union with CNN's Jake Tapper last Sunday, Democratic House Representative Ayanna Pressley called on the United States "to address the evil and scourge that is White supremacy" a month after Donald Trump fans stormed the US Capitol and rioted. During the event, flags and symbols of White supremacy were prominent, and ultimately, the Capitol's custodial staff of color was forced to clean up the mess the rioters left behind. Congresswoman Pressley's comments come just as the Senate is poised to hear arguments in the former President's impeachment trial later this week, CNN reports.
"One of the images that I'm haunted by is the Black custodial staff cleaning up the mess left by that violent White supremacist mob," she noted. "That is a metaphor for America. We have been cleaning up after violent, White supremacist mobs for generations and it must end." The Massachusetts Democrat stated that it took such a "harrowing and traumatic" experience for dozens of Americans to recognize the threat that White supremacy currently poses to American democracy. Her comments were made right before the Senate decides whether Trump's behavior and actions will result in a single charge of "incitement of insurrection."
Pressley continued, referencing the 45th President's claims of widespread voter fraud, "If we really believe that this is a moment of reckoning in every way then we must act accordingly, and that means that Donald J. Trump must be held accountable because he is culpable for having incited this insurrection by perpetuating this 'big lie.' This House has twice done its job. He will forever be the twice-impeached President by this Democratic majority-led House." She clarified, however, that this moment was not just about one President, but about American society as a whole. The Congresswoman affirmed that it is not only an issue of impeachment or securing the Capitol.
"For those that continue to feign great surprise about what happened on January 6..." She explained, "As a Black woman, to be barricaded in my office, using office furniture and water bottles on the ground in the dark that terror, those moments of terror, is familiar in a deep and ancestral way for me. I want us to do everything to ensure that a breach like this never occurs at the Capitol, but I want us to address the evil and scourge that is White supremacy in this nation. This is not only about securing the Capitol to ensure that members and our staffs and custodial staff and food service workers are safe in the Capitol. It is that we are safe in America."
Apart from this, Pressley also weighed in on the racial disparities between vaccination drives: White Americans are receiving vaccinations for the coronavirus at much higher rates than Black and Latino Americans, though data indicates that the latter groups have been disproportionately affected by the ongoing public health crisis. She said, "We knew early on what communities would be hardest hit because of unequal access to health care and the comorbidities of structural racism." While she is encouraged that there is finally a national vaccination strategy in place, she acknowledged that there is room for more to be done.