The first thing Victoria White noticed after emerging from the tunnel where she was severely beaten by two D.C. Metropolitan police officers on January 6 was the floor of the U.S. Capitol. Dressed in jeans and a light red turtleneck, shoeless, White was soaked with whatever toxic chemical gas the police sprayed on protesters.
“I noticed that this beautiful flooring was all wet, soaking wet, like a pipe burst,” she told me this week in one of three lengthy interviews about her harrowing experience at the Capitol protest. Water, however, was not the culprit; the floor probably was drenched because law enforcement had doused Americans with chemical spray for hours inside the U.S. Capitol building.
One officer—White doesn’t know if he was D.C. Metro or Capitol police—handcuffed her with zip ties behind her back. She was told to turn around and face the wall near a statue, White recalled, but she didn’t know the location since it was her first time inside the Capitol. She likely was standing inside Statuary Hall.
Others were there, too, mostly men and one other older woman. Police paraded the group of about a dozen protesters through various parts of the building, up and down elevators, almost as if to disorient their captives. White said they were taken underground near what she described as a set of small train tracks—the Capitol’s people-mover to get members and staff around the complex quickly—and led outside.
Suddenly, White saw a massive bright light. “There was a big news camera and a guy in a dress coat and matching hat. I knew it was a reporter, but how did they know we would exit there? It made no sense to me.”
Everyone was hauled into an awaiting paddy wagon and taken to the nearby police station. White said the men were processed first while she and the older woman waited in the vehicle. Once inside the station, an officer asked for her personal information—her driver’s license was in the jacket she lost inside the tunnel—and finally cut the zip ties. “My hair had been hanging in my face the whole time and I couldn’t move it because I was handcuffed. When I put my hand to my hair, it was wet. I looked down and saw that I had blood on my hand.”
An officer told White she needed to go to the department’s medical office, which she did. But another officer said she probably would be released so White declined medical attention. She was afraid by accepting treatment, she might risk getting put in jail.
“I just wanted to get out of there.” After signing a document, White doesn’t know what it said, an officer told her she would be released. “I wasn’t arrested, they didn’t tell me I did anything wrong, they never read me my rights.”
Led to the back door of the police station, White asked if there was anything she could wear before they tossed her outside in the cold without a coat or shoes. She was given a white jumpsuit with a hoodie and plastic bags for her feet.
Without a phone or money—and no clue where she was—White started to panic. “I borrowed a cell phone from one of the men who also had been released and the only phone number I could remember was my mom’s,” White said. She told her mom, who was in Minnesota, what had happened and asked her to call her daughter and friends so they could pick her up outside the police station.
As she huddled against the wall of the police station to fight the winter wind, White heard a voice on the intercom. A D.C. police officer told White she could not wait outside the building and needed to go across the street to wait for her ride. Police and military vehicles were beginning to shut down streets; White worried her daughter and friends wouldn’t be allowed to get her.
After walking around alone in the cold, clad in a white jumpsuit with no way to reach anyone, White went back to the police station. A different officer finally offered to help; he connected her mom with White’s daughter. “I would like to thank that man,” she said.
Finally, more than 14 hours after arriving in the nation’s capital on the morning of January 6 to watch President Trump and five hours after police officers viciously beat her inside the west terrace tunnel, Victoria White was reunited with her daughter and friends. “I was beyond excited to see them but also starting to feel the pain from what happened.” Suddenly, the people in the car started coughing and rolling down the windows. Fumes from the chemical spray that had saturated White’s skin and hair caused the other passengers to react. “I had no idea it was that strong.”
Back at the host’s home in Virginia, White immediately took a shower. “I was so cold that I used really hot water. That was a mistake. My skin started to burn from the tear gas. It was horrible.”
White arrived home in Rochester, Minnesota on January 8. Several days later, an FBI agent left a business card in the crack of the front door to her mother’s home where White lives with her four teen daughters. White called the agent, who asked her to come in for an interview, an offer White declined. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” White told me. “Then the agent asked me if I knew of anyone planning to bomb the Capitol during Biden’s inauguration. I laughed and said no.”
She didn’t hear anything else from the FBI—until she was awakened around 5:30 a.m. on April 8 to the sound of loud pounding on the front door. White looked out the window and saw a “massive” police presence; the house was surrounded with armed agents and vehicles. Her mother, who works the night shift at the local post office, also was standing outside. An FBI agent had retrieved her mom so she could stay with White’s daughters after she was arrested.
After an hour-long drive to Minneapolis, during which investigators tried to get White to talk about her involvement in the Capitol protest, she was booked and processed. An agent told White she needed a DNA sample. “I argued at first. Why would they need DNA if I haven’t been convicted of a crime? She said if I’m not convicted, they get rid of the sample.”
Federal prosecutors charged White with six offenses including obstruction of Congress and, laughably, “impeding or attempting to impede law enforcement officials performing official duties.” She overheard an officer say he needed to post a tweet about her arrest. “Victoria C. White, 39, of Rochester, Minnesota was arrested by #FBI Minneapolis special agents this morning on charges relating to criminal acts at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” the tweet from the Minneapolis FBI Field Office read with a link to her charging documents.
In September, a D.C. grand jury indicted White on four counts including civil disorder, disorderly conduct, and trespassing—no charge for impeding law enforcement. A trial date has not been set; her next status hearing is in February.
As I have heard from numerous January 6 defendants, legal woes are just one part of their nonstop nightmare. Capitol protesters have been deemed “insurrectionists” by Joe Biden and politicians from both parties. FBI Director Christopher Wray in March designated the Capitol protest an act of “domestic terror,” greenlighting the description to be used against anyone involved in the four-hour disturbance on January 6.
Families have been broken and bankrupted; friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors—even fellow church parishioners—have cut them off. Protesters who simply were in Washington on January 6 and face no criminal charges nonetheless have been fired, some doxxed by social media accounts such as Unicorn Riot, and have lost their livelihoods.
Corporate media outlets fixate on the events of January 6, manufacturing more dangerous contempt and outrage for all Americans on the Right.
One of White’s friends who traveled to Washington with her was fired from her job as a nurse simply for being in the capital, not anywhere near the building, on January 6; she recently found a seasonal job in the service industry to make do.
“It’s horrible what people say,” White said. “They call you a racist even though my daughters are mixed race. Even people who know me, my friends, have said it. My own sister-in-law went out of her way to make it clear on social media that she thinks I deserve full punishment, even people who posted that they want me to be hanged. She liked all of the comments.”
“Now I should be killed for being there on January 6?”
After keeping quiet for the past 11 months, White felt it was time to tell her story.
“If I don’t stand up and speak out, who will? All the J6 defendants deserve someone to stand up and speak for them. I have made mistakes but if God is willing to use me and my story, whatever horrible things come, I am willing to do that.”
She is encouraging the nearly 700 January 6 defendants to do the same.
“It’s time to stand up for ourselves, our country, and for God.”