Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D) said she avoided the safe room during the Capitol riot last week, but it had little to do with the coronavirus.
Pressley explained why she didn’t head to the safe room on Jan. 12 on Twitter. The Squad member refused based on her opinion that some lawmakers hiding in the room were just as dangerous as the rioters who broke into the Capitol.
The second I realized our "safe room" from the violent white supremacist mob included treasonous, white supremacist, anti masker Members of Congress who incited the mob in the first place, I exited. Furious that more of my colleagues by the day are testing positive.
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 12, 2021
In addition to Pressley’s belief that some GOP lawmakers are White supremacists, the GOP’s refusal to acknowledge the coronavirus pandemic also gave her pause.
She was right to be skeptical. Since the riot, three lawmakers who were in the safe room have announced they’ve since tested positive for the coronavirus, including Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), an immunocompromised cancer survivor in her 70s.
In the days since the riot, a video of Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester offering face masks to lawmakers in the panic room was released. In the video, multiple Republicans turned down the offer.
Pressley is now in quarantine after her husband Conan Harris tested positive Jan.13. Pressley tested negative, but is still isolating herself.
“As my colleagues and I sought shelter from the white supremacist mob that violently attacked our seat of government, we were greeted by a different threat—one posed by my callous Republican colleagues who, in this crowded and confined space, repeatedly refused to wear masks when offered,” Pressley said Wednesday according to The Hill.
“Their arrogant disregard for the lives of others is infuriating, but not surprising, and we are seeing the consequences of it daily, as several of my colleagues—and now my husband—test positive for COVID-19.”
Sarah Groh, Pressley’s chief of staff, told the Boston Globe the panic buttons in Pressley’s office were ripped out and as a result Pressley and her team barricaded themselves in her office behind office furniture and water jugs.
Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died in the riot. National Guardsmen and women have since been draped all over the Capitol, even sleeping in hallways.