WEST MICHIGAN. — Michigan lawmakers are sharing what they went through Wednesday when a massive group of protesters in Washington DC got violent and breached the Capitol.
Representatives Bill Huizenga and Peter Meijer spoke with FOX 17 Wednesday evening when they were hunkered down in an undisclosed location together. "All the Delegation is safe," Rep Huizenga said Wednesday.
On Thursday morning, both representatives checked back in with FOX 17 after having just a few hours sleep.
“This is not who we are, we are way better than this, and America needs to be better on all sides,” Rep Huizenga said Thursday morning.
Rep Meijer said he slept in his office, getting only about 3 hours of sleep before getting back up. "Still need to take a shower," he said Thursday.
Recalling when tensions seemed to hit a breaking point Wednesday, Rep Huizenga said, “We could hear the noises going on outside, not sure what what was happening. Suddenly, we could smell a little bit of the tear gas.”
"Capitol Hill security detail was literally holding back the door, they took their batons out... but then it started to escalate very, very quickly.”
Rep Huizenga jumped to assist an officer with moving a bench, attempting to barricade an entrance.
“About halfway there, suddenly the Capitol Hill police officer started screaming 'shots fired, shots fired, get down',” Rep Huizenga said.
“Obviously I dropped the bench, I was down, the Capitol Police Officer that I was with said 'we've got to get this over there.' I picked it back up again. At which point, another Capitol Police Officer was screaming at me, 'Sir, get down on the ground. You've got to get out of here. Let us do our job.' And they did.”
Freshman Congressman Peter Meijer was seated in the House Gallery, just above the floor, as protesters inched closer to breaching the Chambers.
“When they lost control of the Capitol, that's when Capitol Police and other law enforcement officials escorted us from the gallery and you know, it was in some ways orderly, but there was a lot of chaos,” Rep Meijer said Thursday.
"We went down, kind of through the tunnels, we went to a couple of different areas. We're going around there, trying to figure out, you know, what parts of the Capitol are secure.”
They eventually found a secure location where Rep Meijer said about 2/3 of Congress hunkered down. Once the rioters were removed, lawmakers were determined to resume their work.
“Like hell I’m going to let a bunch of domestic terrorists interrupt our government, disrupt our proceedings, and keep us from doing our constitutional duties," Rep Meijer said in a video he posted to Twitter late Wednesday night.
“We didn't do anything but go back and do the job that was started ," he said Thursday.
"That says that we won't be intimidated, that we won't be prevented from upholding our Constitutional duty.”
Around 3:30AM the election was certified.
Both Representatives now calling on those responsible to be held accountable, dismissing claims that there were outsiders that infiltrated the group.
"These reports of somehow this was ANTIFA-lead, and these were all ANTIFA people. It is not the case. It is simply not the case," Rep Huizenga told FOX 17.
Rep Meijer said, “I see people trying to minimize to both sides, to make excuses for what happened, to claim baselessly that, Oh, no, this was ANTIFA, This was BLM or some conspiratory allegations. The folks who were responsible need to own up to this.”
Both committed to not letting what happened Wednesday distort their duties moving forward.
“What happened yesterday does not erase our Constitutional duty, or the voting problems that happened in places like Pennsylvania, and Arizona, and even in Michigan. And I still have those same concerns, those have to be addressed,” Rep Huizenga said.
Peter Meijer saying, “There are a lot of folks that I didn't know that I got to know throughout that process that I gained a tremendous amount of respect for. And then there were plenty of folks I lost a lot of respect for too. So I think this is going to be a moment we have to take stock. But we also have to realize that we have a job to do in Washington.”