A congressman got on his knees to pick up trash left after the deadly Capitol riot
(CNN) -- Rep. Andy Kim says he was devastated to see the smashed furniture, broken American flags, cigarette butts and other debris left behind by the pro-Trump mob that ran wild in the US Capitol. So he found a trash bag, got down on his knees and helped clean up.
"It was really just kind of instinctual. I didn't really like think about it, I just wanted to do something," the New Jersey Democrat told CNN. "I just really felt like I needed to try to play a role in just fixing this mess that had occurred."
Kim sheltered in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building during Wednesday's riot and went to House floor once it was safe, to complete the process of affirming President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.
"We had this really unbelievably raw debate that unfolded. Everyone was very emotional, still, really quite shaken, still," Kim said.
Early Thursday morning, he decided to take a walk around the building, which was still littered with broken glass and other debris.
"I made my way back to the Rotunda and was just devastated by just what I had seen, just the absolute terrible condition that it was in -- the trash and debris over the statues, the floor, some of the benches were askew, and there was a lot of broken furniture, broken American flags and different elements there."
He saw a police officer throwing away a pizza box and asked him if there were any more trash bags.
Then he picked up trash in the Capitol Rotunda and the National Statuary Hall.
A photographer took pictures of Kim working and they were shared widely on social media.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy shared the photo on Twitter and said Kim "represents the very best of New Jersey and our nation. A true public servant who makes us proud every single day."
At one point, Kim passed a plaque marking the cornerstone that was laid by President George Washington.
"A moment like that really reminds me that this building is bigger than all of us, a democracy is bigger than all of us and it deserves and demands our respect," Kim said.
Kim is the son of Korean immigrants and said he's humbled to represent New Jersey's 3rd District, which President Trump won in 2016 and 2020. He's also in awe to work in the Capitol, which he called "the temple of our democracy."
"If someone feels the ability to desecrate our Capitol, to bring a Confederate flag into that building and proudly wave it around, this is someone, these are people, that do not respect government," Kim said. "They do not have that same humility that we need to have. These are people that are not inspired by this building, and do not understand what went into building it, what went into preserving it."
"We do need to take urgent action, but that's not going to fix everything," he said.
He said it was vital to work to restore American's respect for the government and each other.
"I am hopeful, but I'm not naive. I understand the deep challenges that we face," Kim said.
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