U.S. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, who had to shelter when Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, joined a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing the former president of inciting the deadly riot.
The lawsuit claims that Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and two white supremacist organizations, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by preventing Congress from carrying out its constitutional duties and certifying Electoral College votes to make Democrat Joe Biden the next president.
“We have to stand up for our democracy and our rights,” Watson Coleman, a Democrat., told NJ Advance Media. “What they tried to do on that day was to weaken our democracy and disrupt our work. There needs to be accountability for the insurrection and for the fomenting of the insurrection by the president, which put all of us in danger.”
Watson Coleman is one of 10 lawmakers who joined the suit, originally filed in February by the NAACP and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.
Others who joined the suit include House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told CNN in February that the former president “did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol.”
The protesters came to the Capitol after a rally in which Trump fired the crowd up, falsely claiming that the presidential election was stolen, promising he'd march with them to the Capitol and telling them to “fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
“We’ve been there before,” said Watson Coleman, the first black woman elected to Congress from New Jersey. “When you look at the states and the counties and the election returns that were being challenged with disinformation, they came out of predominantly minority communities.”
“I know what happens if we don’t stand up for our rights and if we don’t use the legal system for our protection,” she said.
Five people died, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a native of New Jersey.
She found shelter in a safe room, but several Republican congressmen refused to wear masks and she later tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to the lawsuit, “she was ushered into a small room by Capitol Police where she heard shouts and menacing noises from the insurgents in the next hallway. While trapped in the room, Representative Watson Coleman hoped that, if the rioters broke down the first door, the second thicker door would be strong enough to keep them out of the room.”
After the Capitol was cleared of the rioters, Congress resumed certifying the ballots. A majority of House Republicans, including Congressman Jeff Van Drew of South Jersey, voted to overturn the state-certified electoral votes.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani also kept insisting that the November election was stolen, an assertion rejected by dozens of judges, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and by state election officials of both parties.
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