Business Insider spoke with several Black and Latino custodial workers at the Capitol, who say they now fear for their life after last week’s deadly insurrection. The attack was even more personal, some said, as it was carried out by mostly white, pro-Trump rioters, including white supremacists.
“It felt bad; it’s degrading,” one staff member, who works for the Architect of the Capitol’s labor division, told Insider anonymously. That employee was not at the Capitol during the attack, but was there to clean up the mess that rioters left behind — including broken glass, destroyed furniture, smeared feces, empty bottles and the blood from where Capitol Police and rioters had died.
“I was here on 9/11, and that was probably the most scared I’ve ever been in my 25 years here. But this one is a step, a notch, on the scale,” another staffer said, adding that he was disappointed by how Capitol and federal officers treated the “radical” white rioters.
“[It was] a little bit worse than 9/11 for me. It was a little more personal, in a sense,” he added.
Black and Latino janitorial and labor staffers who were working at the Capitol during the riot told Insider they felt unprotected by management. One employee hid in a closet during the attack, while his family members called and gave him minute-by-minute updates on the havoc that was going on outside, which they watched on the news.
“I was all by myself,” he said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
Some staffers said they hope the Capitol’s new security forces will defend against Trump supporters come Inauguration Day; others are afraid to work.
“I do not want to work on inauguration. No I do not,” one employee said. “I honestly fear for my life. I’ve got two children at home.”
“I hope nothing else happens because these people were talking about killing us, federal employees, killing police... I felt kind of disgusted,” another added.
Black janitorial staffers also pointed to the difference in policing that the white rioters received as opposed to the brutal tactics that were used against Black Lives Matter activists over the summer. They added that it was even more insulting to have to clean up after rioters after learning they had cast racial slurs and insults at the Black Capitol officers who were working that day.
“If it was Black people, we never would have made it, but I think we know better not to attack the Capitol,” one person, who’s worked at the Capitol for 28 years, said. “Yeah, we know better. We know better.”
Another janitorial employee added that he was “used to” cleaning up after white supremacists in the Capitol, referring to some of the Congress members.
“I’m used to it,” he said. “The building we work in... you think [the rioters] were the only [white supremacists] here?”