Video of Minnesota Third District Rep. Dean Phillips went viral on Thursday, after he apologized to members of color in the U.S. House, saying he didn't understand what "privilege really means" until the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Phillips apologized during a special hour organized by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to allow members to share their experiences from that day. Members of the House were ordered to grab their gas masks from under their seats in the chamber and rushed to a secured location as a mob broke through a line of police and infiltrated the building.
"We know the sound of the breaking glass, the screams and the furniture being shoved in front of the doors. We know the feeling of being trapped and believing being taken hostage may be the best case scenario," Phillips said on the floor. "We know what it feels like searching for something with which to defend ourselves and realizing a pencil is all we have."
It was widely reported that day that Phillips, in a moment of anger, yelled "This is because of you!" at his Republican colleagues, who he blamed for stoking the rage of the mob with their support for rejecting the Electoral College certification.
But on Thursday, he said he also screamed to his colleagues to "follow me across the aisle to the Republican side of the chamber so that we could blend in."
"I felt that the insurrectionists who were trying to break down the doors right here would spare us if they simply mistook us for Republicans," Phillips said. "But within moments I recognized that 'blending in' was not an option available to my colleagues of color."
Phillips, a two-term Democrat and business owner, said until that moment he had not understood "what privilege really means."
"It took a violent mob of insurrectionists and a lightning bolt moment in this very room - but now I know," he said. "Believe me, I really know."