Grad in Capitol complex on Jan. 6 tells her story

Arbogast was in Russell Office Building when riots broke out


Ava Amos

The Capitol in Washington, D.C. was the site of riots in early January.

Nick Bozzelli-Levine, Reporter

A Cathedral graduate was in the Capitol on Jan. 6 and got a first-hand encounter with the riots that took place that day.

Ms. Audrey Arbogast ‘16, who serves as a legislative aide for Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, reflected on her close encounter with the deadly riot and her perspective on how the country can move forward.

It was a typical day for Arbogast. Her office’s staggered schedule has her work in person Mondays and Wednesdays as a healthcare adviser for the senator. “I look at other senators’ bills and their legislative ideas and I help the senator consider if it’s something he would like to support and be a co-sponsor on,” Arbogast said. She was in her office in the Russell Senate Building when events escalated.

 “We weren’t entirely sure what was going on and we were seeing on TV that there were people starting to come toward the Capitol building,” Arbogast said. “It was really scary because we were in our office and over the loudspeaker they were telling us to lock the doors and get away from the windows and to gather our desks if need be and barricade the doors.”

Bombarded by the cacophony of rioters and sirens, Arbogast even recalled hearing the marine helicopters coming in. However, other parts of the Capitol had it even worse. “I have friends who work over on the House side and the House side was the side that got hit hardest,” Arbogast said. “I’m very lucky because the Russell Building was left largely undisturbed by people who came into the Capitol.” 

I think what happened should not be tolerated by anyone.”

— Ms. Audrey Arbogast '16

Arbogast said hopes that this sort of thing will never happen again. 

 “It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on. I think what happened should not be tolerated by anyone,” Arbogast said. “The Capitol is the people’s house but it’s also a symbol of freedom and liberty and I think it should be treated as such.” She said she believes that the root of this tragedy was, at its core, a lack of understanding and honest conversation. She added, “I think what we saw was that there were people who felt that they hadn’t been represented by their government.”

 According to Arbogast, the Capitol has made many efforts to ensure the safety of legislators and lawmakers in light of the riot. “Probably within a six- to seven-block radius in every direction they’ve got fencing up and I’ve heard (that) between 21,000 and 30,000 National Guard members were deployed to D.C.,” she said.

However, according to Arbogast, while ensuring safety is certainly top priority in Washington right now, the real goal should be addressing division and striving for peace and understanding. “I think this is a really good opportunity for us to reflect about how we disagree with one another and the approaches that we take to compromising and having appropriate dialogue,” Arbogast said.

 The key to do this, according to Arbogast, is extending an arm of peace toward those one doesn’t agree with, whether that’s in the Senate or here on the Hill with one’s fellow classmates. “I think (that) moving forward, it’s just very important to continue to have bipartisan conversations and (not to) shut the door on ideas that we don’t 100% agree with,” she said.

Arbogast said she wanted to give a shout-out to Ms. Jill Twilleager, social studies teacher and We the People head coach, for putting her on her track to politics and allowing her to be part of this exchange of ideas.

Arbogast said that she and Braun share the goal of working together with lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum. “I love working for my boss because he puts such an emphasis on wanting to do things in a bipartisan way,” Arbogast said. “I personally am looking forward to working with bipartisan counterparts and people across the aisle on (coming) up with solutions that are going to better the American people.”

 Summing up, Arbogast said she believes that the United States can heal and move forward as a country if the people learn to listen to and respect each other’s differences more. According to Arbogast, “It’s great to have a foundation of ideas and it’s important to have ideological principles that you feel passionate about. But I think the most important thing is to be well knowledgeable about those ideas but also humble enough to hear the counter argument.”

At the end, she said she believes the good of human nature will prevail, and the nation can move forward. Arbogast said, “At the end of the day, people want to do what’s best for other people.”