"I have no doubt that some of us who look like me would have been hanging from the railings of the third floor onto the House floor, swinging like fruit, strange fruit," Johnson (D-Georgia), who is black, told the Rev. Al Sharpton on Saturday in an MSNBC interview.
US Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot in the throat and killed on Wednesday as she and more than a dozen other rioters tried to get into the Speaker’s Lobby, a hallway that would have given them access to the House chamber. Johnson said he was among 30-to-40 House members who were in the third-floor gallery of the House chamber at the time, claiming that he would have been trapped.
"They could have had their pick of who they wanted to make an example of," he said. "And they came to the Capitol to do business. And the business that they were about was to lynch some people. They talk about Mike Pence they talk about Nancy Pelosi, but you and I know, Rev. Al, that one of us would have been hanging with them."
Although supporters of President Donald Trump came to Washington in protest of Democrat Joe Biden's allegedly fraudulent election victory, Johnson said Wednesday's violence was "nothing but a race war that was about to be unleashed."
Democrats have called for Trump to be impeached, even though his term is scheduled to end in 10 days, alleging that his urging of supporters to come to Washington was an "incitement to insurrection." Another lawmaker of color, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), said Trump must be impeached to hold him accountable for his "act of hostility" and block him from seeking elected office ever again.
"When we talk about healing, the process of healing is separate and, in fact, requires accountability," Ocasio-Cortez said on Sunday in an ABC News interview.
Asked about Republicans who urged Biden to request that the House not go forward with impeachment, Ocasio-Cortez said those lawmakers may not realize how perilous the breaching of the Capitol was. "Perhaps my colleagues weren't in the room, perhaps my colleagues were not fully present for the events of Wednesday," she said. "We came close to half of the House nearly dying on Wednesday."
Ocasio-Cortez didn't provide details on where she was during the incident or explain how rioters might have gotten to – much less killed – dozens of House members. According to a CNN timeline of the events, lawmakers learned that protesters were in the building at 2:13 pm and Pence was evacuated at 2:30 pm. Social media footage suggests Babbitt was shot at around 2:45 pm.
We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality