Central Florida lawmakers on Capitol riot: ‘I saw firsthand how close democracy came to dying’

Lawmakers, insurrectionists reflect on Jan. 6, 1 year later

ORLANDO, Fla. – It is an image he said he cannot forget.

“I saw firsthand how close our democracy came to dying,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D – FL), one year after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

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Soto was one of a handful of people trapped in the U.S. House of Representatives Chamber when a shot rang out inside the Capitol one year ago.

“It is the work we have done since Jan. 6, to prevent it from happening again, that I think is so critical right now,” Soto said in a Zoom interview. “We passed a security supplemental to harden the Capitol to better fund our Capital Police. We passed the Jan. 6 commission, which is methodically investigating and showing the public what actually happened that day.”

Law enforcement officials have also arrested and charged hundreds of insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol one year ago, in support of former President Donald Trump.

Those events further catapulted the swinging pendulum of American politics into the spotlight and, one year later, seem to have only solidified lawmakers’ positions in the American political landscape, whether they lean left or right.

“You want to know what today is really about? It’s about politics. It’s about promoting a political narrative,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R – FL) said in a video he released on his Twitter account.

“I condemn political violence…but over the next few hours, you are going to hear a lot of speeches, a lot of talk and a lot of opinions from far left activists who are masquerading as journalists,” Rubio said.

On Twitter, other Central Florida lawmakers weighed in. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) – who sits on the Jan. 6 commission – shared photos she took one year ago showing destruction inside the Capitol.

Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), who is also a U.S. Green Beret, called the attack “terrible.”

“Unlike in places where I’ve served overseas, we settle disputes in America through legislation,” the congressman wrote. “That’s what went wrong on Jan. 6.”

Lawmakers were not the only ones reflecting on that fateful day. Michael Curzio, of Marion County talked, exclusively to News 6 about his role in the riot.

Curzio previously pleaded guilty to protesting inside the Capitol and was sentenced to six months for the crime.

“I do not regret it. You know, I mean, it happened. Things escalated really quickly, and then it got to the point of no return, and people said that enough was enough,” Curzio said.

“I personally, I did not do anything. I went there. I protested. I did exactly what I said I was going to do. I did not go there to fight with any cops. I did not go there to overthrow no government or anything. I just wanted my voice to be heard.”

Curzio is one of 26 Central Floridians who were arrested for their role in the Capitol riot.

Of those, he is the only one whose case has gone all the way through the court system and is now closed.


About the Author:

Award-winning investigative reporter Merris Badcock joined the News 6 team in October 2020. Merris is the recipient of a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, a Suncoast Regional Emmy Award, four Suncoast Emmy Regional nominations, and two first-place Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists’ Awards.