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.
I was in the House gallery when insurrectionists breached the Capitol and attempted to destroy our democracy. Our community will forever mourn the @CapitolPolice officers killed and stand with those who suffer emotional scars from that day.— Rep. Darren Soto (@RepDarrenSoto) January 6, 2022
📸: @AssociatedPress pic.twitter.com/pvSr3TTmDd
“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.
Get ready to witness the shameless hypocrisy of the far left politicians & liberal activists masquerading as journalists who downplayed & excused riots & looting during the summer of 2020 pic.twitter.com/CVdDjfFceC— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 6, 2022
“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.
It's hard to believe that tomorrow will be a year since I took these photos after the attack on our Capitol.— U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (@RepStephMurphy) January 5, 2022
We cannot forget how close we came that day to losing our democracy. Our #Jan6Committee is making swift progress and we will not back down until we find the truth. pic.twitter.com/0bw0yBq3CD
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.”
I was in the Capitol on Jan 6 and it was terrible. Unlike in places where I’ve served overseas, we settle disputes in America through legislation, in the courts, and through debating the constitution.— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) January 6, 2022
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.