Democratic California Rep. Jackie Speier on Monday described her experience during the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol and compared it to the time she was nearly killed by the Peoples Temple cult in Jonestown, Guyana.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” Speier was asked by host Andrea Mitchell how the events at the Capitol brought back her memories from Guyana. (RELATED: ‘Stop Reading QAnon Sites And Start Reading The Gospel’: Joe Scarborough Addresses Trump ‘Cult’ Members)
“I was in the gallery, and it was frightening to experience that pounding on the doors. We had to get gas masks out. I was shaking as I was tearing open the pouch. And we had to crawl under the railings to get to the other side. And then they said ‘get down,’ and we got down, and I heard a gunshot, and it took me back to 43 years ago,” Speier said. “And I remember placing my cheek on that cold, marble floor and thinking to myself, I survived the jungles in Guyana, and I could be losing my life here in this tabernacle of freedom and democracy. And, I couldn’t believe here I was at home and it was happening here as well.”
Speier worked for Democratic California Rep. Leo Ryan when she joined him on a trip to Jonestown, Guyana in Nov. 1978 to investigate the Peoples Temple cult. The cult was based near Ryan’s congressional district in San Francisco, but had established the settlement at Jonestown. Speier toured Jonestown with Ryan and met with cult members, some expressing their desire to leave.
Relations with Jim Jones, the cult’s leader, ultimately deteriorated and Ryan was killed and Speier was shot 5 times while trying to escape at a local airstrip. Following the the shootings, 900 members of the cult, including Jones, committed suicide. Speier and the other survivors of the shooting had to wait overnight before being rescued the next day.
Mitchell went on to ask Speier if she had taped her narrative from the Capitol riot and if she was going to be one of the video witnesses for the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, who has been accused of inciting the riot.
“I have not, but I intend to like so many of my colleagues, to put into words that every American can hear for decades to come, how close we came to losing our democracy,” Speier responded. “I think what gets lost in all of this is the fact that President Trump basically told that mob to go to the Capitol, to the Congress of the United States … that was about to do its job relative to the Electoral College, and he told them to fight like hell. Fight like hell meant overtaking the legislative branch of government. And we can’t lose sight of that.