Michigan lawmaker remembers fear, chaos during Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Posted at 7:16 AM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 18:25:57-05

(WXYZ) — Thursday marks the first anniversary of what's been described as the worst attack on national democracy since the Civil War.

As lawmakers worked to certify the 2020 election, thousands of pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol, hurting dozens of police officers and breaking into congressional offices.

A total of five people died during or shortly after the attack – three protesters and two police officers.

Damage done to the building was estimated around $1.5 million, and so far, more than 725 people have been charged in connection with the event.

Over the last year, we've learned a lot about the people at the Capitol that day, including their mindsets, and how law enforcement has been able to track them down since.

A dozen people from Michigan have been charged in connection with the events. All are men ranging in age from 25 to their mid 50s.

"The Capitol policeman burst in and he said, 'let's go. Right now,'" Rep. Andy Levin said.

Levin was in his office in the Cannon House Building on Jan. 6.

“I didn’t even take my laptop. It was that kind of an emergency," he said.

He ended up in another Michigan lawmaker's office, Rep. Elissa Slotkin. Police warned them about protesters possible reaching their building.

"They told us not to open the door," he said.

Professor Javed Ali teaches at the University of Michigan. Before that, he spent nearly two decades working for the feds on counter-terrorism. He said it's clear from photos and videos that so quickly circulated that many rioters didn't expect consequences.

“Most of those crimes are misdemeanors but there have been some people charged with more serious felonies," Ali said. "So within this pool from Michigan, there have been people who definitely acted out fairly violently against law enforcement.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Trevor Brown from Novi forced his way into the lower west terrace. Investigators say he pushed his way to the front of the crowd, used a stolen police shield, and at times, appeared to speak to fellow rioters using a bull horn. He's charged with five crimes.

Like so many Jan. 6 defendants, investigators say he to took to social media, seeming to brag about his role.

Outside of their own social media, facial recognition software helped the FBI, as did cell phone records from inside the Capitol. But evidence is still being collected pertaining to the riot, and many rioters are still at large.

“This may not be the final number of people arrested or charged with links to Michigan," Ali said