McGovern, Neal reflect on Jan. 6, warn of ongoing attacks on democratic rights

  • U.S. REP. JIM McGOVERN, D-Worcester


  • Protesters storm the Capitol and halt a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS) Kent Nishimura

  • Supporters of President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. AP FILE PHOTO

  • Rioters scale a wall at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana

  • A new AP-NORC poll shows about two-thirds of Americans, including most Democrats, describe the attack of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as extremely or very violent. Only about 4 in 10 Republicans say that. AP IMAGE

Staff Writer
Published: 1/5/2022 8:55:03 PM
Modified: 1/5/2022 8:54:24 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, was a firsthand witness to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“It was a coup. An attempted coup. That almost succeeded,” McGovern said. “I still look back at horror on that day.”

Yet McGovern doesn’t consider Jan. 6 to just be a horrifying piece of history.

“The attempted coup is not over,” he said. “The people who masterminded it are trying to learn why they didn’t succeed.”

McGovern presided over the House of Representatives prior to members’ evacuation from the chamber on Jan. 6. He was also the last member of Congress to leave the House chamber and passed through the Speaker’s Lobby after he did so, a room that’s directly connected to the House floor.

Shortly after McGovern passed through, protester Ashli Babbitt was shot dead by Capitol police as she was trying to gain entrance to the lobby, one of several people who died as a result of the Capitol’s invasion.

Congressman Richard Neal, D-Springfield, was also in the Capitol for the insurrection, and he and his staff barricaded themselves into Room H-208 before escaping after tear gas was deployed.

“I hope we never have to repeat the horror of what happened on Jan. 6,” Neal said.

McGovern has little patience for those who don’t think there was an insurrection or downplay it.

“They’re either lying or they weren’t here,” he said. “Tell those who were injured that day that it didn’t happen.”

He also said he has difficulty getting into elevators with colleagues who downplay what happened on Jan. 6. He saw broken glass at the Capitol and bloodstains on its marble floors on that date, he said, as well as hate in the eyes of those who stormed the Capitol.

Neal expressed a similar lack of patience for those who deny or downplay the day’s events.

“It’s nonsense,” he said. “It’s an effort to undo the reality of what happened on Jan. 6.”

He also said that this characterization is deliberate.

“They are trying to change the narrative,” said the congressman. “It was not another tourist day at the Capitol.”

Neal also recalled Capitol Police officers having their guns drawn behind the door they were barricaded behind on that day.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is preparing to go public with its findings, according to the Associated Press, stating that they show a connection between the invasion and a larger campaign to falsely assert that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from President Donald Trump.

“They have interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people,” McGovern said.

Shortly before the Capitol was invaded, Trump addressed a crowd of his supporters and reiterated false claims that the election was stolen from him.

“I blame Trump for Jan. 6,” McGovern said, although he added that the president “did not act alone.”

McGovern said he speaks regularly with Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the chairman and vice chairwoman of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, and that memos prior to Jan. 6 have been uncovered that seek to undermine the will of the American people. He also said that Republican leaders, led by Trump, are willing to seize power by any means necessary.

The congressman said laws have been introduced around the country to politicize the election process and suppress the right to vote. And he said there needs to be mass mobilization to fight against this.

“This is an emergency and we have to start acting like it’s an emergency,” McGovern said.

McGovern said voting rights legislation needs to pass the Senate, and the filibuster should either be abolished or amended in order to make this possible.

“The coup is ongoing,” McGovern said. “We need people to mobilize like never before.”

McGovern also said that those involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection should be held accountable, and that if members of Congress are found to have aided it, they should be expelled from the body.

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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