Hours after pro-Donald Trump rioters rampaged through the US Capitol building, followed by an overnight session to certify Joe Biden’s victory, New Jersey representative Andy Kim was seen crouched down on the floor in a widely-shared photo, cleaning up the mess left by the mob.
As soon as business resumed, members had to walk back to the joint session of the Congress amid the trail of destruction left by the mob after the attack on the historic building. The shocking images showed furniture and windows broken, water bottles littering the ground, offices vandalised, and flags dumped in the dustbins.
The third district congressman was photographed in the US Capitol Rotunda helping the workers who had been working for hours to clean the debris.
“I was just really affected emotionally. I felt this kind of heightened, kind of supercharged, kind of patriotism that I just felt take over,” the Associate Press quoted him as saying.
Mr Kim said he noticed police officers were putting pizza boxes in rubbish bags, so he asked for one too, and began cleaning up.
“When you see something you love that’s broken you want to fix it. I love the Capitol. I‘m honoured to be there,” he said. “This building is extraordinary and the rotunda in particular is just awe-inspiring. How many countless generations have been inspired in that room? It really broke my heart and I just felt compelled to do something. … What else could I do?” he said.
Photos of Mr Kim cleaning up the Capitol after midnight, clicked by AP’s Andrew Harnik, caught the attention of several users on social media who praised his efforts.
Another congressman quoted by AP said it was the “most poignant moment of the long night” for him as he thinks Mr Kim wasn’t looking for publicity.
“I think it was 1 in the morning,” said fellow New Jersey democratic representative Tom Malinowski. “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," Mr Malinowski said.
Mr Kim, a second-term Democrat from a district Mr Trump won twice, is the first member of Congress of Korean descent in the Democratic Party and the second overall. A University of Chicago graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Mr Kim served as the Iraq director for Obama administration’s National Security Council from 2013 until 2015.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies