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‘It was degrading’: Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists


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Just days after a violent attack by a pro-Trump mob, the hallways of Congress were quiet and nearly spotless.

Black and brown people, many of them keenly aware of the racial dynamics of that event, had cleaned up after the overwhelmingly-white rioters. 

The Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol left behind shards of broken glass and ripped-apart furniture, blood, empty bottles, and even feces smeared on the walls. 

The custodial staff cleaned up in places where people were bludgeoned and in one instance fatally shot, and where dozens of Capitol Police officers were wounded.

“It felt bad. It’s degrading,” said one custodial employee in his 30s, who works for the Architect of the Capitol’s Labor Division. 

“We’re all Black in our labor shop,” he told Insider in the basement level of the House hallways shortly after getting his lunch. The staffer, who was wearing a dark hoodie and black mask on Monday, said he was not at the Capitol on the day of the attack but followed the events on TV like the rest of the country and the world. He watched footage on TV of his fellow black colleagues cleaning up the next day. 

Several Capitol janitorial and labor employees — all of whom were Black or Latino — told Insider they no longer feel safe at their workplace, which is supposed to be one of the most secure in the country. They recounted the hurt of cleaning up after white nationalists who could have threatened their lives, and they feared what’s yet to come in the days leading to and on Inauguration Day.

“I was here on 9/11 and that was probably the most scared I’ve ever been in my 25 years here but this one is a step a notch on the scale,” said a staffer who has worked at the Capitol for more than two decades. “It’s a little bit worse than 9/11 for me. It was a little more personal, in a sense.”

That employee, who talked to Insider in the hallways of the Senate, said he was dismayed at just how easily the attackers were able to get past Capitol police and how police officers appeared to treat with kid gloves all the people he described as “the radicals.” While he was hiding somewhere in the Capitol, his family members were calling and texting to ask if he was safe.

“I’m a man of faith, so that helps me, you know,” he said, but he remained concerned about what would have happened if the rioters “would confront me personally” and how he’d have responded.

“I’m going to tell it like this: if I were the Capitol Police, I wouldn’t have a job the next day. If my life is in danger, then I’m going to do what I can to defend myself,” he said as he climbed the escalators near the Senate subway. 

Another man who performed janitorial services in one of the Senate office buildings told Insider he hid in a large room during the riots after his supervisor told …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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