Three Flushing residents were joined by Councilwoman Linda Lee outside of the Flushing Public Library for a virtual candlelight vigil on Thursday, Jan. 6, to mark the one-year anniversary of the violent insurrection attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Henry Krumholz, who organized the vigil, recalled watching a mob of then-President Donald Trump supporters pushing through barriers and storming the Capitol seeking to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election. According to Krumholz, he was in a complete state of shock.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening in America. Former President Donald Trump was 100% responsible for what happened on Jan. 6, and had Vice President Mike Pence changed his mind and gone with Trump, we would’ve lost our democracy forever,” Krumholz said. “As a lifelong activist, it’s important for people to come together and say, ‘never again.’”
Susan, another Flushing resident, said it was horrifying to see many people had listened to Trump.
“Some people did not see through his sick thinking that he could only be the president and he did not want to lose. He changed the facts and what’s so scary is that people believed him and then Republican politicians are educating people that are not speaking up, and that’s also scary,” Susan said.
Gabby, who proudly waved the American flag, said she is “utterly heartbroken” by the current state of the country’s democracy.
“The fact that it is now endangered and we have one party that is laughing in the face of the rule of law, and we have a certain segment of the American population that would like to fill the other segment as was evidenced on Jan. 6, I think it was a jarring wake up call for everyone,” Gabby said. “I’m really heartbroken that the only Republicans who showed up in the House for the Jan. 6 commemoration were former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney.”
According to Lee, it’s not a left versus right or Republican versus Democrat issue, but a basic right and threat to Americans’ freedom that Republicans have failed to recognize which is “extremely disappointing.”
“This is one of those important incidents that we can’t forget that our democracy was threatened and people wanted to take that away from us,” Lee said.
For Lee, the Jan. 6 insurrection felt like a “crazy, surreal moment” that left her in shock, as she thought about her friends who were sheltering in place inside the Capitol building.
“Congresswoman Grace Meng who was one of my mentors, just knowing that folks like her and her colleagues were in the building while all of this was happening, and some of the personal stories we heard while the insurrection was going on and the days after that, it said a lot about where we were in that moment as a country,” Lee said. “I’m glad though, that since that incident, the House and Congress has passed laws to expand voting rights. It was a huge slap in the face towards our democracy and, as a country, we have to do better and stand up to that.”
In a statement, Meng reflected on that harrowing day, as she was barricaded in a room on the House floor as the angry mob marched right outside her door.
“I feared for my life and called loved ones asking them to pray for me as these insurrectionists, spurred by then-President Trump, stormed the halls of Congress. I continue to be offended, appalled and disgusted over the havoc and damage that they wrecked and their weaponizing of the American flag, and all Americans should feel the same regardless of party affiliation,” Meng said.
According to Meng, who represents Flushing in Congress, hundreds have been charged for their roles in the attack and it is crucial that those responsible continue to be brought to justice. Many questions about Jan. 6 remain unanswered — from who was involved, the security, coordination and communications failures that occurred, and the actions of Trump and his apparent refusal to stop the chaos.
Last summer, Meng voted to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate what happened. The panel has already interviewed more than 300 witnesses and secured thousands of pages of records, Meng said.
“It is essential for the American people to have accountability and the truth. We deserve nothing less, and I am hopeful that we will find out these answers as the panel continues its vital work,” Meng said.
The insurrection is still surreal to Meng, who says she continues to see the destructive and violent images of rioters when she walks through the Capitol.
“As we reflect on the one-year anniversary of the attack, we must all stand united against the heinous acts that occurred on that dark day in our nation’s history,” Meng said. “We must continue to address the hurt and pain that it has caused, the healing that still needs to take place, and do everything in our power to ensure that a situation like this never ever happens again.”