Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips apologized Thursday night on the House floor to his colleagues for having “privilege” during the Jan. 6 Capitol siege.
As congressmen spoke of their fears during the event, the 52-year-old heir to the Phillips Distilling Company issued contrition.
“I’m not here this evening just to seek sympathy or to tell my story,” Phillips said. “Rather, to make a public apology. For, recognizing that we were sitting ducks in this room as the chamber was about to be breached, I screamed to my colleagues to follow me, to follow me across the aisle to the Republican side of the chamber so that we could blend in. So that we could blend in. For I felt that the insurrectionists who were trying to break down the door, right here, would spare us if they simply mistook us for Republicans.”
Phillips claimed that, unlike his colleagues “of color,” he could blend in with Republicans since he’s white. In reality, nearly two-dozen GOP representatives are minorities, as part of the most racially-diverse conservative group in history.
There is also no evidence rioters targeted anyone by race or party. Most said they were seeking the vice president or Senate and House leadership.
“But within moments, I recognized that blending in was not an option available to my colleagues of color,” the second-term representative from the Minneapolis suburbs said. “So, I’m here tonight to say to my brothers and sisters in Congress and all around our country, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. For I had never understood, really understood, what privilege really means. It took a violent mob of insurrectionists and a lightning bolt moment in this very room. But now I know, believe me, I really know.”
The 117th Congress is the most racially diverse in U.S. history, with 127 non-white members, or about 30%, which mirrors the national ethnic breakdown.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, ringleader of the speeches, praised Phillips’s words as an “extraordinarily powerful account.”
Republican colleagues excoriated the socialist firebrand this week for posting videos reliving her “very close encounter” where she “thought she was going to die.” It quickly came to light that the young congresswoman was not even in the Capitol building during the riots.
“This was the moment I thought everything was over. I mean, I thought I was going to die,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Five people did die during last month’s riots, including U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who received the rare tribute of lying in the Capitol Rotunda before being laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was killed while she attempted to climb through a window. Three others died from medical emergencies. At least 150 people have been apprehended so far.
A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.