'What else could I do?' NJ Rep. Kim helps clean up Capitol

Full Screen
1 / 2

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and trash strewn across the floor in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Water bottles, clothing, Trump flags, even a U.S. flag littered the ground inside the U.S. Capitol after a mob backing President Donald Trump ransacked the building.

New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim walked amid the mess shortly after voting to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Trump — and felt the weight of the day wearing on him — when something motivated him to clean up 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,” he said in an interview.

It was then he noticed police officers putting pizza boxes in trash 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 honored 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?”

The image of Kim crouched down clearing away litter bookended a violent, historic day that saw an angry mob smash through police lines, break windows and wrench open doors as they sieged the building, not long after Trump said at a rally they should show “strength” and fight against Congress’ certification of Biden’s win.

Kim, a second-term Democrat from a district Trump won twice, wasn’t looking for publicity, according to one colleague who came upon him and didn’t recognize him at first.