A congressman who was photographed helping Capitol staff clean the building in the early morning hours following the Jan. 6 riot says he is donating the suit he wore that day to the Smithsonian.
Rep. Andy Kim, D-New Jersey, made the announcement in a Twitter thread Tuesday, the six-month anniversary of the deadly riot that briefly delayed the certification of the 2020 election results.
Kim said he considered throwing away the suit but was approached by the Smithsonian about making a donation in January.
"I told the Smithsonian yes to donating the blue suit because the telling of the story of Jan6 isn't optional, it is necessary," Kim tweeted. "There are those trying to erase what happened, voting against commissions/committees aimed at documenting history. They say just move on and turn the page. But I say, you can't turn the page of American history until you write the page first."
In his thread, Kim said he purchased the suit "off-the-rack at JCrew during a holiday sale" late last year. He hoped to wear the suit during President Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20 but decided to wear it on Jan. 6 to celebrate two Democratic run-off wins in Georgia the day before that gave his caucus control of the Senate.
"I bought it to be a suit of celebration, and I thought what better way to give the suit meaning than to wear it when I confirm the electoral college and then later to the inauguration," Kim tweeted.
6 months ago today I wore this blue suit as I cleaned the Capitol after the insurrection, now I just donated it to the Smithsonian. Jan6 must never be forgotten. While some try to erase history, I will fight to tell the story so it never happens again. Here is one story…(THREAD) pic.twitter.com/GKePd1ZMrr— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) July 6, 2021
But Jan. 6 turned out to be a day of destruction. Thousands of Trump supporters rushed the Capitol building in the hopes of overturning the results of the 2020 election. Rioters broke windows and assaulted Capitol police offices. Five people died amid the chaos.
In the early morning hours on Jan. 7, cameras captured Kim with trash bags, picking up garbage left on the rotunda floor.
"Like my suit, what I did on Jan 6 on its face was unremarkable. I saw a mess and cleaned it. I wanted to right the wrongs of that day as quickly and as tangibly as I could," Kim tweeted.
Kim says the last time he wore his blue suit was on Jan. 13, when he cast his vote to impeach President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the riot. Kim said there was still "dust one the knees" of his pants from riots the week before.
After the impeachment vote, Kim considered throwing the suit away. But he changed his mind after receiving letters of support from people across the country.
"People wrote saying the blue suit gave them a sense of resilience and hope. For me, I was in a tough place. In days after Jan6 I had an unshakable regret that I didn't do more to keep people safe. But feeling of hope/resilience in the cards helped me feel stronger. Thank you," Kim tweeted.
Kim said he was inspired to fulfill the Smithsonian's request as a way to highlight the deeds of those who protected the Capitol and kept democracy afloat.
"The story of that day wasn't just destruction. There was hope and resilience," Kim said. "The Capitol Police were heroes that saved lives. Colleagues and staff showed bravery. I hope those stories are told. They help tell a story of light on one of the darkest days in our democracy."
In a statement on Tuesday, the Smithsonian confirmed that Kim's suit was among the items it had collected from the Jan. 6 riots.
"We can confirm that Rep. Andy Kim's suit has been received by the museum as 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," Melissa Machado, the director for the Office of Communications and Marketing from the National Museum of American History, said in a statement to KYW-TV in Philadelphia.