Remembering Jan. 6, When He Was Trapped Alone in the Capitol

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Wayne K. Williams, a apical adjutant to the No. 5 House Democrat, was the lone subordinate of his unit successful the Capitol connected Jan. 6, 2021. He was barricaded successful his bureau unsocial arsenic mayhem reigned.

Wayne K. Williams, a elder  advisor  to Representative Hakeem Jeffries, spoke publically  for the archetypal  clip  astir  his acquisition   during the Capitol riot.
Credit...Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Emily Cochrane

Jan. 6, 2022, 3:41 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Wayne K. Williams, a elder advisor to Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the No. 5 House Democrat, was the lone unit subordinate successful his bureau connected Jan. 6, barricaded successful a country successful the mediate of the Capitol arsenic the deadliest onslaught connected the gathering successful 2 centuries unfolded.

Pandemic precautions and concerns astir protests had kept different members of Mr. Jeffries’s unit location that day. Mr. Jeffries, the president of the House Democratic Caucus, was successful the chamber. That near Mr. Williams, a 44-year-old autochthonal New Yorker, unsocial successful an unmarked bureau connected the archetypal level of the building, adjacent an country straight nether the Rotunda known arsenic the Capitol Crypt.

He would look galore hours later, arsenic the House prepared to reconvene to certify President Biden’s electoral victory.

Mr. Williams precocious spoke to The New York Times astir his experience. This interrogation has been edited for magnitude and clarity.

Things didn’t get started until 1 p.m. successful the House chamber. At what constituent did you turn alert of what was going connected outside?

Chairman Jeffries goes up to commencement discussion, I bent backmost successful the Capitol office. I was conscionable gazing astatine ESPN for a small portion and, again, not reasoning thing breathtaking is going to happen.

I callback getting a telephone telephone from my daughter. My daughters don’t telephone maine successful the mediate of the day. And truthful she calls maine and she’s similar “Papi, wherever are you at?” She’s benignant of concerned: “You spot what’s happening?”

I’m a small perplexed. I’m like, “I’m good. I’m fine.” I did besides person a substance connection from my younger girl arsenic well, asking maine the aforesaid question. The buildup that they were seeing, I hadn’t felt astatine the moment.

I spell to the restroom. Upon exiting the restroom, I retrieve seeing similar an contiguous doubling of Capitol Police beingness successful the hallway, and respective of the officers had this truly ample weaponry.

I heard this commotion, similar this sound and yelling, banging. I conscionable walked backmost into the office, and things of course, immediately, quickly, instrumentality a turn.

Do you think, “I’m conscionable going enactment successful here?” Or for you has it not truly sunk successful yet what’s going connected outside?

Yes, I’m successful the office. The tension, I tin consciousness it done the window, you tin perceive the chants, you tin perceive yelling.

I walked to the beforehand door. I inactive consciousness secured by this doorway due to the fact that it has a beauteous salient lock. I tin perceive them — possibly it was unwise for me, successful hindsight, to basal by the door.

You tin perceive planning, you tin perceive them chanting worldly like, “They stole the election. This is my America, this is my America, we’re going to prevention our country.”

You could besides perceive folks who were person to the door, readying astir wherever they were going to go. You tin perceive them urinating extracurricular the door.

At the infinitesimal I’m lasting determination and I tin perceive what sounds similar a gun, you perceive the enclosure benignant of propulsion back. It sounded similar that, that’s erstwhile I backed distant from the door.

I was inactive calm. I besides reached retired to the manager of the House Caucus and told him straight that we are to not stock the codification for the entranceway with anyone.

I conscionable didn’t spot what was happening oregon understand, rather, what was truly happening connected the different broadside of that door. So yeah, I conscionable stayed put.

Did anyone effort to get successful done the door?

Oh, no, they perfectly tried. Absolutely, they tried. The doorway knob would beryllium fidgeted with and turned.

I’m looking retired the model and I’m seeing a batch of enactment that is troubling. It’s troubling to spot the bottles being thrown astatine the Capitol Police officers. It was troubling to spot the emblem is being thrown astatine the Capitol Police officers, it’s troubling to spot the benignant of choler that was pointed and directed to the Capitol Police officers.


Credit...Jason Andrew for The New York Times

What are you feeling erstwhile you spot those things?

I’m a first-generation American — my parent came implicit to this state from Trinidad successful the ’70s. There’s this toughness that she has ever possessed and however she’s raised us.

Being calm didn’t mean that I was not angry, oregon becoming much and much aggravated astatine seeing what was happening, and past besides the thought of what was perchance happening.

My superior thought and interest was the members, and it was the chairman, but it was besides the different members.

Yeah, this was real. In summation to knowing the value of remaining calm, I felt angry, and it was a increasing anger.

I was convinced that this was brought connected by the 4 years of having Donald Trump arsenic the president. And truthful that’s wherever I moved from being confused, acrophobic — and to being convinced.

When you did yet permission the office, and what was that like?

It was a small aft 8 o’clock. I was precise skeptical, still, of going outside.

I retrieve walking and looking retired to the hallway. It was disheartening, to accidental the least. It conscionable benignant of made you very, very, very, precise bittersweet and shocked.

The happening that stood retired the astir that I deliberation astir to this time — the John Lewis memorial poster committee that was positioned extracurricular of [the bureau of Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland].

Key Figures successful the Jan. 6 Inquiry

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I callback coming retired and seeing that ripped up successful the hallway and feeling, again, aggravated — and past besides feeling disappointed.

You know, it angered maine that they would conscionable benignant of disrespect Capitol grounds that individuals similar John Lewis had walked and worked successful for truthful galore years.

There was feces and determination was urine. It was conscionable litter and trash. It was conscionable a very, precise disheartening image.

Now I was looking astatine the Capitol gathering abstraction disrespected successful a mode that I inactive deliberation is surreal, right? That’s astir apt the portion of the full time for maine that I inactive effort to grasp its reality.

As a Black antheral successful this institution, however did that play into your experience?

It was a pugnacious season, we were coming disconnected George Floyd’s murder. The archetypal thoughts were, if the rioters were of a antithetic ethnicity, oregon antithetic race, what would person the effect perchance person been? What would the sum person suggested?

In those moments, each of your alerts are heightened. And so, you know, your information is taken into priority, and you constitute a speedy database down successful your caput astir imaginable what-ifs.

That day, I was viewing the breach arsenic an American. Yes, I’m an African American male, but I’m an American, and the breach was successful galore ways against each Americans.

What is it similar for you now, walking past Republicans, moving successful the aforesaid abstraction arsenic radical who person denied the facts of what happened?

The enactment is nonstop. We’ve each travel retired of Jan. 6 with antithetic emotions, antithetic sentiments astir the day.

I don’t deliberation it would beryllium to my advantage, to proceed to transportation a sentiment that is unproductive. I’m trusting the process that is successful spot to clasp folks accountable for Jan. 6. There’s truthful galore different things that we person to beryllium abreast of.

There’s a respect origin of the instauration that I deliberation we each volition proceed to carry. And we volition let the accountability process to determination forward.

What does accountability look similar to you?

All participants who breached the Capitol connected Jan. 6 should beryllium held accountable, certainly, to the regularisation of law. And then, that process plays retired the mode it volition play out.

I genuinely judge that determination is an important constituent astir accountability that is often overlooked, and that portion astir healing and moving forward.

How are you reasoning astir the anniversary?

I’m looking guardant to a antithetic consecutive acceptable of Wednesdays. We started with, of course, the insurrection; and past the 13th, we had the impeachment; connected the 20th, we had the inauguration. January 2021, was, to enactment it rather simply, was a engaged month.

I anticipation that it’s not a time we retrieve arsenic the time that separated america oregon divided us, but a time that moving guardant brings america person together.

That’s a beauteous optimistic presumption considering everything that’s happened successful the past year.

I know, but you often request a benchmark to look guardant to with the anticipation that you tin bash thing antithetic astatine that moment.

There person been moments — a glimmer of anticipation — wherever I’ve seen and observed Democrats and Republicans engaging successful precise cordial conversations. Gives maine anticipation that, you know, arsenic we spell guardant with these Jan. 6 benchmark moments that it would bring america person unneurotic alternatively than disagreement america further apart.

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