Supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 caused major damage to the building and its contents. During the most significant breach of the iconic building since British troops burned Washington, D.C., in 1814, the rioters smashed windows, vandalized offices, battered doors and scattered trash and feces.
However, some people started rolling up their sleeves and cleaning up right away. One of these people was U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, who was photographed kneeling on the floor of the Rotunda with a trash bag gathering debris. After seeing police officers loading garbage into the bags, he asked them to give him one, too.
Kim, who was elected in 2018 as the first Asian American to represent New Jersey in Congress, spent 90 minutes filling half a dozen bags with the garbage left behind by the mob, moving on to clean up in adjacent rooms before returning to the House floor to debate Pennsylvania’s vote count until 3 a.m.
AP photojournalist Andrew Harnik shared an image on Twitter that he captured of Kim helping officers clean.
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
Kathryn Rose Fisher (@kayrosef) replied, mentioning her own experience with the politician.
“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,” she commented. “Definitely a real public servant.”
Many more comments followed, and some who replied said the photo gave them a sense of hope and pride.
“When you see something you love that’s broken, you want to fix it. I love the Capitol. I’m honored to be there. This building is extraordinary, and the Rotunda, in particular, is just awe-inspiring. How many countless generations have been inspired in that room?” Kim told the Associated Press. “It really broke my heart and I just felt compelled to do something … What else could I do?”
The congressman responded over Twitter as well, sharing a news report from CNN.
“We are all ordinary people in extraordinary times,” he tweeted. “What I did isn’t special, it’s the same thing that drives us to volunteer at a homeless shelter or donate to a food bank: the idea that if something is broken, we can work to fix it.”
We are all ordinary people in extraordinary times. What I did isn’t special, it’s the same thing that drives us to volunteer at a homeless shelter or donate to a food bank: the idea that if something is broken, we can work to fix it. https://t.co/3kHTWKiLem
— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) January 8, 2021
As federal agencies don’t typically carry insurance, the money to fix the damage and replace furniture will come from the public.
“Taxpayers will be on the hook for repairs to the Capitol,” Stephen Ellis, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a U.S. budget watchdog group, told Reuters.
The Architect of the Capitol, which oversees building preservation and maintenance, will also likely cover some of the cost, although it is not yet known how much those costs might be.