Some Florida lawmakers were there when rioters stormed U.S. Capitol

A year after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a woman carries flowers up the stairs into the Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Washington. Thursday marks the first anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, a violent attack that has fundamentally changed Congress and prompted widespread concerns about the future of American democracy. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (Jacquelyn Martin, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – In what many hoped could be unifying, the response to the riot at the U.S Capitol shows a continued divide.

Throughout the day Thursday, people in Washington have spoken out about the attack at the Capitol, and News4JAX has requested comment from each of your elected federal leaders in Northeast Florida.

The images of Jan. 6, 2021 -- unforgettable, especially for those who experienced it firsthand.

RELATED: Where cases stand for locals charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Rep. Al Lawson, D-Florida District 5, issued a statement that reads: “I recall walking into the Chamber to cast my vote after the attack in the early morning hours, and it was hard to believe that something like this would happen in America. We have seen it in other countries, but not here. However, this riot happened in front of all our eyes.”

Rep. Val Demings, D-Florida District 10, is a Jacksonville native who represents Orlando in Congress.

”I was there with my colleagues to watch the peaceful transition of power, but unfortunately, and I say this as a former 27-year law enforcement officer, there was nothing that was peaceful about that day,” Demings recalled.

Demings made herself available to discuss the riot and didn’t pull her punches, especially when it comes to getting answers about what happened.

“We should want to know who participated. Not just those physically, but those who were not there, who funded it, who planned it,” Demings said. “We’ve got to know all of those things so we can make sure our children and our grandchildren and future generations deserve for this to never happen.”

RELATED: Terror, shattered glass and thanks: Lawmakers recall Jan. 6

Calls to hold people accountable have turned into a partisan line.

Many Republicans criticize the ongoing investigations, but a year ago, Rep. John Rutherford, R-Florida District 4, told us he supports accountability and called it a national disgrace when speaking with News4JAX.

The Jacksonville Republican said a week after the riot, “The blame for loss of life, violence, and property damage falls squarely on the shoulders of those who committed these crimes. Those who stormed the Capitol, caused the death of a police officer, and injured many others must be held accountable for their actions. It is past time our country finds our way back together to heal our open wounds…”

Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Florida District 6, told us in an interview two weeks after the riot: “We need to have a full investigation of really what happened.”

A year later, Republicans have pulled back – at least from the investigation underway in Congress.

“We tried to establish an independent commission with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, a special independent commission -- just like we did during 911 -- to investigate this case. It was rejected by the Republican members,” Demings said.

News4JAX requested comment from each local member of the House of Representatives, and Florida’s two senators.

Some did not respond, some said their schedules were full and some simply said they did not wish to speak about it.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.