About one month after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, The 19th reached out to all 143 women in the 117th Congress to ask about their experiences on January 6. Twenty-three shared their points of view from that day. We are also publishing each lawmaker’s full account of that day. Here is what Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida told The 19th. The transcript has been lightly edited:
My time in this whole insurrection started way before January 6. I am a product of Mr. Trump’s wrath throughout his administration. I knew exactly what was going to happen. I predicted it. I predicted it so clearly in my dreams before going that I set up a call with the captain of the Capitol police, and he put one of the Black women captains on to speak with me on the phone.
Because my chief of staff felt like she was going to have to refer to that to get me there safely, she recorded. The conversation went something like this: “What kind of precautions are the Capitol Police putting in place for the 6th of January?” And she said, “Oh Congresswoman, we’re ready, we’re staffing up.” And I said, “No, you tell me what you are doing because I am afraid to come to D.C. because I know what Mr. Trump and his loyalists, his cult, can do to you.”
I had another incident with some anti-vaxxers. I am on the education committee and a child’s advocate. So when the measles outbreak happened, I wrote a bill that required all children and parents to be caught up with their vaccinations — especially in the time like what we’re going through. This man called my office and said he was going to kill me and come to Miami and put a bullet in my head.
As I spoke to this Capitol Police captain, what she was saying to me made no sense, and I said to her: “There are going to be thousands of, maybe 50,000 people in Washington that are going to march on the Capitol and be on the steps of the Supreme Court.” I had predicted that they’d march to the Capitol.
She said, “We have to give people their First Amendment rights, but if they decide to march on the Capitol, we will have enough reinforcements to stop them.” I said, “What are you calling enough because you don’t have enough. Will you have the local officers from Virginia, from Maryland?” She said, “We are able to call them at the drop of the hat, but I don’t think we’ll need them.” I said, “Do you have barricades?” And she said yes. And I said, “How tall are they?” And she said, “Three feet tall.” I said, “Let me say this to you: go back and tell your boss that Congresswoman Wilson said for him to get the National Guard there. Get all the surrounding jurisdiction police forces to stand around the little barricade you have.” She said, “Okay Congresswoman, I’ll go tell them.” I said, “I’m not just saying this out of the clear blue. I’m saying this because I’ve experienced Mr. Trump’s loyalists, and they are not normal. They are crazy. And you’re thinking about people defending their First Amendment rights by having a protest. These are violent people who have threatened to murder me, one of which is still on house arrest.”
I was on the phone with her for an hour. When I hung up, I told my staff: “They’re not going to listen to her. No one is going to listen to her.”’
I think that the average citizen has no clue what happened on January 6. I was terrified that day, because I knew something bad was going to happen. I had even called the Capitol Police before I came to D.C. and told her they needed more precautions, taller barriers and reinforcements. I was scared to come to the Capitol, because I’ve had Trump supporters call my home saying they were going to kill me and others have sent me a noose. My driver brought me to the Capitol around 10:30 a.m., just in time for me to vote before the certification, and I went back to the car around 11 a.m. The crowd had more than doubled in that time.
I decided to leave because I was scared. I was scared because I had been through so much with Mr. Trump and his followers. When I got there that morning, there were people there then. I said these officers are not going to be able to stop them. When I was talking to the Capitol Police, I was envisioning a rally at the Supreme Court. I was told they were just going to rally at the Supreme Court. I didn’t know anything about what was actually going to happen. When I went outside, it was like maybe 500 to 1,000 people who had converged in the parking lot in the front of the Capitol where I was going to get into my car.
When I came out of the door, these oddly dressed people were there with their MAGA hats. I never wear a member’s pin anyways. I feel like I wasn’t in the right place as I tried to make my way to this car. I was by myself, and there was one police officer way, way far from me. So they were looking at me from my head to my toe. I know that they realized that if you are a Black member of Congress, you are not Mr. Trump’s friend. You are not on his side. I knew immediately that they were seeing me as an enemy. They didn’t talk to me, but they were menacing. They came close — both men and women — like at any minute they were going to slam me to the ground. My driver approached, and I ran and jumped in that car.
I watched the siege from my apartment, five blocks away, after having left the Capitol hours before. I thought I was going to have a heart attack, because none of my colleagues could see what I was seeing. I kept texting them: “There’s thousands of people outside; they are breaking into the Capitol; and they are taking a woman out on a gurney and she has a gaping hole in her neck.” She was full of blood, and blood was pouring out of this hole.
My vantage point was different from theirs, and so I was able to tell them and warn them what was out there. It lasted for four hours.
So then, they sent police to come get me from my apartment to bring me back there to vote. So me and my staffer took a tour of the Capitol, and it was very littered and some of the artifacts were broken. I saw blood on the statues in Statuary Hall, and I also saw feces. I think as they were injured with glass coming in through windows, some of them were bleeding and wiped the blood on the statues. I went into the bathroom by the speaker’s lobby, which is the murder scene, and they had destroyed that bathroom. There’s a water cooler normally fastened to the wall. They had ripped it from the wall and slammed it on the ground. All of the sanitary napkins were all over the ground. They had broken the mirror and ripped everything off the walls, paper everywhere. They destroyed that Capitol.
So the entire time that they were voting that night, I was so scared. I said these people are going to come back, and I was thinking, “Why can’t we do this tomorrow when it was daylight?” I was afraid they would come back. The Republicans, after all of that, were still playing games, still challenging the votes. And everytime they challenged, you would have to revert to a two-hour break. The Capitol was still, as far as I was concerned, unsafe.
I didn’t see anyone stopping [the rioters] from coming back. It was still wide open and raw. Everyone was traumatized, and people were crying still. I don’t think we proved anything by having that vote that night. I do not see what we proved. I didn’t see any reason why that could not have happened the next morning because everybody was so afraid that they were going to return.