Congressman donates suit he wore to clean up after US Capitol riot to Smithsonian
WASHINGTON - U.S. Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey has donated to the Smithsonian the suit he wore while cleaning up after the U.S. Capitol riot.
"While some try to erase history, I will fight to tell the story so it never happens again," the congressman posted on Twitter Tuesday.
Kim then gave an in-depth explanation of why he wore the suit to begin with and how he ended up donating it.
The 38-year-old said he bought the blue suit from J. Crew to attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration scheduled on January 20. He went with the color blue to symbolize the Democratic victory after hearing that Georgia awarded its electoral votes to Biden, solidifying his win over former President Donald Trump.
However, on Jan. 6, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop lawmakers from certifying Biden’s win leading to a violent confrontation with law enforcement officers. Seven people died during and after the rioting, including a woman who had been shot, three supporters of former President Donald Trump who had medical emergencies. Two police officers died by suicide in the days that followed, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. A medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.
After the riot, Kim noticed police officers putting pizza boxes in trash bags, so he asked for a bag, too, and began cleaning up.
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"I wanted to right the wrongs of that day as quickly and as tangibly as I could," Kim added.
The lawmaker then wore the same suit on January 13 to cast his vote to impeach Trump, who was later acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.
"When I got home I vowed to never wear the suit again," he continued. "I even considered throwing it away. It only brought back terrible memories."
Kim said he started to receive messages about wearing the suit while he cleaned up. The Smithsonian then asked for him to donate the suit to its exhibit detailing the riot.
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"People wrote saying the blue suit gave them a sense of resilience and hope," Kim said.
He further described the honor of having donated an item to the Smithsonian.
"Patriotism isn’t to think we are infallible; it is to know we make mistakes but to love our nation and one another with care enough to fix the injustices that remain," he continued. "To know our resilience. To have humility to know that we are a part of something bigger than all of us."
An official from Smithsonian's National Museum of American History confirmed with FOX Television Stations they started collecting artifacts shortly after the riot.
"We are grateful to all our partners, including Congress, who have contributed to the Smithsonian collections. Our curatorial staff, including in the division of political and military history, continue to monitor the evolving situation regarding the election of 2020 and the Capitol building insurrection and interruption of the final ratification of that election," a statement said.
The official added Kim's suit is "part of a larger collecting initiative to continue to assess now and in the future what historians and the public will know about Jan. 6, 2021."
There are no plans for an immediate display.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.