When rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, it sparked visceral feelings of terror and sadness in those who watched the events unfold on television. But Officer James Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the Capitol Police Department, told PBS NewsHour that the reality was “was much worse in person than anything you’re ever going to see on film.” He described the scene as looking like “a horde of zombies… Just people as far as you can see, just salivating.”
Blassingame sat down with Lisa Desjardins on Wednesday night to discuss the riots, just one day after the Senate released its report detailing the number of security failures that occurred on that infamous day. As Blassingame is part of a civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump for the part he played in these violent attacks, there was only so much he could say. But the scene he laid out was horrifying—especially once he and his fellow officers were notified that “they’re coming in the window.”
“We rolled out towards the center of the rotunda, looking north. And you just hear… just noise and people running at me as far as the eye can see, from the crypt to the north side, Senate side, of the Capitol… I looked to my left and to my right and there’s like maybe eight or nine of us and I’m thinking: Sh*t!
[We were] holding a ‘line,’ but there’s no line we’re holding because there’s an insurmountable amount of people and there’s like eight, nine officers.
I’m 39 years old. I’ve never been called a n***er to my face in 39 years. I might have been called a n***er, but I’ve never been called one to my face. That streak ended on January 6th. I was called a n***er. I was called a traitor. I was called various epithets.”
When Desjardins played a clip of various Trump-leaning politicians claiming that the events of that day, in which five people were killed, Blassingame was clear to dispel any notion that it was anything like “a normal tourist visit” (as House Republican Andrew Clyde declared like a damn idiot).
“I would think certain things are above politics. I mean, it’s deplorable to say. As bad as it looks on film, believe me, it was much worse. They can stitch together as much footage as they want to, but I’m telling you, and anybody in that was in that scrum will tell you, it was much worse in person than anything you’re ever going to see on film.”
You can watch Blassingame’s full interview below: