Following a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday that left five people dead and briefly delayed the Electoral College tally, Rep. Andy Kim, D-New Jersey, was photographed cleaning the Capitol Rotunda along with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
"I was cleaning up the Capitol because it was the right thing to do. That building deserves to be treated with respect, and yesterday it was desecrated," Kim told the Burlington County Times.
On Wednesday, Kim was among the members of Congress who were forced to shelter-in-place when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building. Kim told GQ that when the alarm sounded, he was able to make his way over to his office in the nearby Rayburn House Office Building, where he sheltered in place for six hours.
"We didn’t ever imagine something would happen inside the building," Kim told GQ.
It wasn't until 9 p.m. that Kim returned to the House floor to resume the Electoral College. Following the vote, which ended early Thursday morning, Kim said he decided to walk through the halls of the Capitol to survey the damage.
Kim said he saw trash strewn about the Capitol and was "shocked by the disarray." Left behind were Trump flags, water bottles, pieces of body armor, cigarette butts and other garbage.
"It broke my heart — I almost started crying," Kim told GQ.
It was then that Kim started to clean up the mess in the building. He grabbed a trash bag from nearby police officers and got to work.
Kim said he helped police officers clean the building for about an hour and a half. He didn't leave the Capitol until 3 a.m. ET Thursday morning.
An Associated Press photographer captured Kim cleaning up the mess alongside law enforcement agents. The photo quickly went viral on Reddit, where one post with the image received nearly 80,000 upvotes.
"It was important for me to just do something. I was obviously voting and doing my constitutional duties, but what we experienced today no law can erase," Kim told the Times.
Kim recently won his second term in a district won by President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.