Defending an entrance to the United States Capitol against an armed mob of Trump supporters on January 6, Constable Michael Fanone was dragged into the crowd, beaten unconscious and repeatedly electrocuted with a taser at the base of his skull. A man tried to take his gun and shoot him. He suffered both a heart attack and a concussion.
As shocked as Mr Fanone was at the violence of the attack, he was also outraged by members of Congress’ subsequent efforts to downplay its seriousness or blame former President Donald Trump.
“So many of my fellow citizens, including so many people for whom I put my life in danger, minimize or outright deny what happened,” he told a congressional committee on Tuesday, as he hammered Table. “I went to hell and came back to protect them… but too many people now tell me that hell doesn’t exist, or that hell actually wasn’t that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is shameful.
Mr. Fanone was one of four police officers who testified on the first day of the select committee investigating the Capitol riot. Each officer recounted in vivid detail the battle that lasted for hours, in which hundreds of police were beaten and gassed by rioters trying to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory. on Mr. Trump. All four called the perpetrators of the attack “terrorists” or “white nationalists”.
Each officer also mingled with the former president and Republican lawmakers who defended the rioters and tried to block any investigation into the attack.
Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell criticized Mr. Trump’s claim in an interview with Fox News that his supporters were “hugging and kissing” officers on Capitol Hill that day. Mr Gonell also criticized conspiracy theories which sought to claim that the riot was somehow instigated by Mr Trump’s perceived enemies to make him look bad.
“If it was hugs and kisses, then we should all go to his house and do the same to him,” Mr. Gonell said of Mr. Trump. “It wasn’t Antifa, it wasn’t Black Lives Matter, it wasn’t the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent to Capitol Hill that day.
Mr. Gonell described a desperate struggle as he and other officers tried to stop a crowd of rioters from entering a narrow corridor leading to the Capitol.
“What we were subjected to that day looked like something out of a medieval battle. We fought hand to hand, inch by inch, ”he said. “I could feel myself losing oxygen and going, ‘This is how I’m going to die defending this entrance.’ ”
An officer and four protesters died that day. Two other officers who were present subsequently died by suicide.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, attacked two of his own members this week for agreeing to sit on the committee. He ridiculed Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Congressman Adam Kinzinger as “Pelosi Republicans” during a White House event on Monday.
Ms Cheney, one of only 10 Republican representatives to vote for Mr Trump’s impeachment following the riot, said the investigation should clarify what happened in the White House on the day of the insurgency .
“If those responsible are not held to account, and if Congress does not act responsibly, it will remain a cancer for our constitutional republic,” she said.
Capitol Hill Police Officer Harry Dunn also called on lawmakers to hold those behind the attack to account.
“If a hit man is hired and he kills someone, the hit man goes to jail. But not only does the hitman go to jail, the person who hired him does, ”Mr. Dunn said. “There was an attack on January 6, and a hitman sent them. “
Mr Dunn, who is black, described being the victim of racist abuse from the crowd that day, many of whom carried Confederate battle flags. At one point, a crowd of Mr. Trump’s supporters booed him and repeatedly called him the n-word. “This is our home: President Trump invited us here,” Dunn told him, citing the rioters.
David Hodges, like Mr. Fanone, a Washington Metropolitan Police officer called in by the outnumbered Capitol Police to help, also called for political responsibility for the riot.
“I need you to say if anyone in power played a role in this, if anyone in power coordinated or aided and encouraged or tried to minimize, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack “, did he declare.
Mr. Hodges was crushed in a door of the Capitol by the press of the rioters in front of him. A rioter, uttering “guttural cries” and “foaming in the mouth,” used Mr Hodges’ gas mask to bang his head against the door, he said. Others used stolen police shields and batons to hit him in the face and someone shot him with a fire extinguisher.
He said some rioters, ironically, carried pro-police flags. At one point, he said, an insurgent shouted that the police should not be fighting them because “we are not Black Lives Matter”.
Officers and members of Congress sometimes cried during the emotional hearing.
Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat from Florida, credited police with saving her life. She said their actions bought her enough time to escape from a hideout only steps away from the rioters.
“The main reason the rioters did not harm any member of Congress is that they did not meet any member of Congress. And they haven’t met any members of Congress because the law enforcement officers did your job that day, ”she said.
As rioters raged across Capitol Hill, they searched in vain for then-Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers.
Mr Gonell recounted being unable to kiss his wife and son when he finally got home at 4 a.m. the next day because he didn’t want to expose them to tear gas and anti-spray. bear on his clothes.
Mr Fanone said that as rioters attacked him, he wondered if he would ever see his four daughters again. Before losing consciousness, he said, he told his attackers he had children, which ultimately caused some members of the crowd to let him go.
“They tortured me, they beat me,” he said. “It is shameful that members of our government were, I believe, responsible for instigating this behavior.
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