Hours after pro-Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol leaving behind a trail of debris, a Congressman joined police officers in cleaning up the building lobby. Now, images of Congressman Andy Kim, captured by AP Photographer Andrew Harnik, are winning hearts online.
The New Jersey Congressman spent hours locked in his office, as violence was unleashed in the premises. After the dust settled, he joined hands with the ATF police officers to clean up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Thursday.
Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., helps ATF police officers clean up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) @ap pic.twitter.com/hBsC70uxPW
— Andrew Harnik (@andyharnik) January 7, 2021
Water bottles, clothing, Trump flags, even a US flag littered the ground inside the US Capitol after an angry mob smashed through police lines, breaking windows and wrenching open doors as they ransacked the building.
After all was clear, Kim, who has previously served in Afghanistan and Iraq, took it upon himself to start cleaning up the debris and garbage left behind. And eyewitnesses say it wasn’t for an audience. Rep Tom Malinowski and Rep. Dean Phillips who walked in on him posted images on Twitter saying they didn’t realise it was their fellow colleague at first glance.
At 1am last night, @RepMalinowski and I walked the Capitol to thank staff, police, and guardsmen and women for their service on a horrifying day. In a quiet Rotunda, we found our friend @RepAndyKimNJ alone, on his knees, picking up garbage left by the insurgents.
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) January 7, 2021
“There were a couple National Guardsman and I noticed somebody on his hands and knees leaning under a bench to pick something up and it was Andy all by himself, just quietly removing debris and putting it in a plastic bag. He was clearly not doing it for an audience,” Malinowski told AP.
“Litter and trash and garbage and debris everywhere — all over the statues, the benches were all askew and it just broke my heart,” Kim told CBS Philly.
Kim in an interview with GQ magazine said that after he voted, he started walking around the Capitol, surveying the damage. It was then he noticed police officers putting pizza boxes in trash bags, so he asked for one, too, and began cleaning up. “When I got to the rotunda, the center of the Capitol and really the center of our country, right at the heart of our democracy, I was shocked by the disarray,” he said.
“This was probably the worst condition that room has ever been in. It broke my heart — I almost started crying,” he added saying it was a really emotional day for him.
Talking about the viral images, he added: “It was a day of extraordinarily sad images, and I think the image of someone trying to clean up the mess struck a nerve with a lot of folks.”
Here’s how people reacted:
Some people are uniquely, unshakably, and inherently good. As important as all the statements denouncing the violence are, this quiet action stands out. https://t.co/D0iRiecfUY
— Chase Laudenslager (@News2Chase) January 8, 2021
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) January 7, 2021
NJ Rep. Andy Kim helps clean up the Capitol Building after the riot. When asked for comment he stated “I love this building, tonight more than ever.”
— Tyler C. Tuszynski (@TuszynskiPolicy) January 8, 2021
This literally brought me to tears. Witnessing POC LITERALLY cleaning up white violence AGAIN is so heartbreaking. I’m so sorry.
— ReadyForTheLisaSimpsonEra (@pickmanyabean) January 8, 2021
Good guy. Hero. Man of honor and integrity.
Thank you, @AndyKimNJ.
— A.R. Jacobs 😷💜🇺🇸 (@ayyarj1) January 8, 2021
Such a small, insignificant action, that speaks volumes of character and humanity. I could only wish that those who represent me, in the halls of government, would do the same.
— Tim Bend (@being_tim) January 8, 2021
Thank you for sharing this and thank you @RepAndyKimNJ for being a wonderful public servant. This brought tears to my eyes. 😢
— Lisa in PdR (@smurfman651) January 8, 2021
This is exactly who @AndyKimNJ is. I remember for one of his first events while running for Congress, I was getting things ready and spilled some ice on the floor. I came back with a towel and saw him kneeling on the floor, picking up ice cubes.
Definitely a real public servant. pic.twitter.com/C5FVkLketG
— Kathryn Rose Fisher (@kayrosef) January 7, 2021
I’ve seen a lot of pictures at the Capitol yesterday but this one really tugged at my heartstrings. From Reddit: https://t.co/xORKOZGixm
— Jocelyn (@berrydelicious) January 7, 2021
Thank you for highlighting the proper way to behave as an adult! I def needed this today.
— SWAZ(202)224-3121☎CONGRESS (@SueSaysEnough) January 7, 2021
Andy is a good man and a fellow Truman Scholar. I wouldn’t expect anything less given his character and integrity. https://t.co/GzaZILetLw
— Julie M. Anderson (@jmanderson015) January 7, 2021
Looking for good examples of a public servant showing leadership? He looks like a good place to start. https://t.co/88Ve0ZHJQL
— Scott Bowen (@ScoBo) January 7, 2021
A glimmer of hope. Thank you, Rep. Andy Kim.https://t.co/XZJ467mWov
— Peter Coy (@petercoy) January 7, 2021
I guess it’s just the Asian in us. Haha. If i were there, I’d probably do the same. I can start hearing my mom screaming about how messy the place is and I’ll start picking things up. Haha.
— Ken Me (@KenMe11) January 7, 2021