“This was the ugliest display of racism that I’ve seen ever. And I’m from the South,” says Remmington Belford, 30, the communications director for Representative Yvette D. Clarke, Democrat of New York. “There’s a specific demographic of people that you know conduct themselves that way, and you find your way away from them. Those people came to Capitol Hill. The people who believe in supremacy due to genetics were on Capitol Hill, and they were armed, and they were incensed.”
The staff members described feelings of fear about the physical threat and anger about the psychic damage done by the mob.
“I never though I’d see the Confederate flag walked through the halls of Congress,” said Mike McQuerry, 50, the communications director for Delegate Stacey Plaskett, Democrat of the Virgin Islands and an impeachment manager in the trial of former President Donald J. Trump. “As much as we think we’ve had progress, we haven’t progressed that much.”
Mr. McQuerry said that white rioters, using force and rage, gained access to parts of the Capitol that had always been off-limits to him, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office or the floor of the Senate.
“Those insurgents got to places where we as staffers couldn’t go,” he said, “places we wouldn’t even think about going.”
Mr. McKnight, Mr. Belford and Mr. McQuerry watched the worst of the violence as they were fortified in their offices in the Rayburn Building on the House side of the Capitol complex.