Capturing the chaos: Two journalists with local ties reflect on the Capitol attack

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 21:38:57-05

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTVF) — It's one thing to watch what happened at the U.S. Capitol, it another to be a witness.

"I must have said at least 17 times [Wednesday], where’s the National Guard? Who’s coming?" said Amy Harris.

Harris is a Clarksville, Tennessee native turned freelance photographer, who has been covering all the big protests since the death of George Floyd. "I’ve been at like 100 protests," she said.

Amy was getting wide shots of the crowd at President Trump's speech on Wednesday when she noticed the group on the move. "And I saw people coming down the Mall, and then I was actually at the gate when they tore the first gate down," said Harris.

At that point, the scene around the Capitol fell into chaos. "They did not have enough Capitol Police for this. Obviously, there’s really no level of police that can stop 100,000 - 200,000 people," she said.

Also in the midst of the mayhem was former NewsChannel 5 reporter Matthew Torres. He was on assignment for his new station, WUSA-TV in Washington D.C.

"The scanner said we have lost control of the Northeast side, and as soon as I heard lost control, I was like, alright that’s clearly not a good sign," said Torres. "And by the time we went to the south side, it was just overwhelmed with all of the people."

Torres says anger wasn't just directed at politicians and law enforcement, he watched a group destroy cameras, computers and tripods belonging to journalists on the scene.

"The reporters and photographers had no option but to run away because eventually the gates surrounding this area was toppled down," he said.

It should come as no surprise that both journalists have lingering questions about what they saw.

"How was this even able to happen? Why was security not there and why wasn’t there enough law enforcement to stop this from happening?" asked Torres.

"I expected within minutes for this to be over, and tear gas to fall from the sky for this whole area, because that would have cleared it, in my opinion," said Harris.

One thing is certain. Thanks to these journalists, and others like them, we're gradually getting a clearer picture of what happened.

"While it was happening, at the moment, I didn’t realize how historical it’s going to be, but now it’s sunk in," said Harris.

Both reporters didn't have much rest for the weary. On Thursday, Amy Harris was flying out to her next assignment in another state. Matthew Torres spent the day doing follow up reporting on the Capitol attack for WUSA.