NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Select committee on January 6th attack gets to work, hears testimony from police officers

This morn­ing, the Unit­ed States House Select Com­mit­tee on the Jan­u­ary 6th Attack held its first meet­ing, con­ven­ing to hear tes­ti­mo­ny from four police offi­cers who defend­ed the Capi­tol on that hor­rif­ic day almost sev­en months ago.

Chaired by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ben­nie Thomp­son of Mis­sis­sip­pi, the com­mit­tee con­sists of nine mem­bers: sev­en Democ­rats and two Repub­li­cans. The Democ­rats are Thomp­son, Adam Schiff, Zoe Lof­gren, Elaine Luria, Stephanie Mur­phy, Pete Aguilar, and Jamie Raskin; the Repub­li­cans are Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

All were appoint­ed by Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi.

Top Repub­li­can Kevin McCarthy with­drew all five of his choic­es after Pelosi said no to seat­ing two out of the five, say­ing that Jim Jor­dan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indi­ana were not appro­pri­ate choic­es to serve on the pan­el. Banks and Jor­dan are zeal­ous Trump boost­ers who stood ready to obstruct the com­mit­tee’s work.

McCarthy’s with­draw­al of his entire slate prompt­ed Pelosi to add Kinzinger to the pan­el. (Cheney, who was kicked out of House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship ear­li­er this year, had already been appoint­ed to the com­mit­tee as one of Pelosi’s ini­tial picks. She has become one of the high­est pro­file Repub­li­cans crit­i­ciz­ing Trump.)

All nine com­mit­tee mem­bers were on hand as Thomp­son gaveled the com­mit­tee to order and intro­duced its first wit­ness­es (descrip­tions are from Wikipedia):

  • Daniel Hodges, Offi­cer, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment of the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. Dur­ing the attack. Hodges was crushed in a door­way between riot­ers and a police line. An indi­vid­ual has pled not guilty to assault­ing Hodges and grab­bing his gear.
  • Michael Fanone, Offi­cer, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment. Dur­ing the Capi­tol attack, riot­ers pulled him into the crowd, beat him with a flag­pole, stole his badge and repeat­ed­ly tased him with his own Taser. They also went for his ser­vice gun. He sup­port­ed the cre­ation of the Jan­u­ary 6 com­mis­sion and crit­i­cized those who down­played the attack.
  • Har­ry Dunn, Pri­vate First Class, U.S. Capi­tol Police. He has spo­ken about the racial abuse he and oth­er offi­cers expe­ri­enced dur­ing the attack. His lawyers respond­ed to Tuck­er Carl­son call­ing him an “angry, left-wing polit­i­cal activist”.
  • Aquili­no Gonell, Sergeant, U.S. Capi­tol Police. He was beat­en with a flag­pole and chem­i­cal­ly sprayed.

Over the course of three and a half hours, the offi­cers told their hor­ri­fy­ing sto­ries, describ­ing the vio­lence abuse they suf­fered at the hands of Trump’s ter­ror­ist mob.

Here are a few excerpts from their testimonies.

Fanone:

I thought I had seen it all, many times over, yet what I wit­nessed and expe­ri­enced on Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021, was unlike any­thing I had ever seen, any­thing I had ever expe­ri­enced, or could have imag­ined in my coun­try. On that day I par­tic­i­pat­ed in the defense of the Unit­ed States Capi­tol from an armed mob… an armed mob of thou­sands deter­mined to get inside.

Because I was among the vast­ly out­num­bered group of law enforce­ment offi­cers pro­tect­ing the Capi­tol and the peo­ple inside it, I was grabbed, beat­en, tased, all while being called a trai­tor to my coun­try. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm as I heard chants of, kill him with his own gun.

I could still hear those words in my head today.

Dunn:

I wit­nessed the riot­ers using all kinds of weapons against offi­cers, includ­ing flag poles, met­al bike racks they had torn apart and var­i­ous kind of pro­jec­tiles. Offi­cers were being blood­ied in the fighting.

Many were scream­ing and many were blind­ed and cough­ing from chem­i­cal irri­tants being sprayed in their faces.

I gave decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion aid to as many offi­cers as i could, flush­ing their eyes with water to dilute the chem­i­cal irritants.

Gonell:

While i was at the low ter­race of the Capi­tol work­ing with my fel­low offi­cers to pre­vent the breach and restore order, the riot­ers called me trai­tor, a dis­grace and shout­ed that I — I, an Army vet­er­an and a police offi­cer, should be executed.

Some of the riot­ers had the audac­i­ty to tell me that it was noth­ing per­son­al, that they would go through me, through us, police offi­cers, to achieve their goal as they were break­ing met­al bar­ri­ers to use as weapons against us. They used more men­ac­ing language.

If you shoot us, we all have weapons, we will shoot back. Or, we will get our guns. We out­num­ber you, they say.

Hodges:

As we came close to the ter­ror­ist our line was divid­ed and we came under attack. A man attempt­ed to rip the baton from my hands and we wres­tled for control.

I retained my weapon. He yelled at me: “You’re on the wrong team.”

Cut off from my lead­er­ship, which is at the front of our for­ma­tion, we hud­dled up and assessed the threat sur­round­ing us. One man tried and failed to build a rap­port with me, shout­ing: “Are you my broth­er”? [and] anoth­er shout­ing: “You will die on your knees.”

If you can spare the time, the video of their tes­ti­mo­ny can be watched on demand here. These first­hand accounts are worth see­ing and hearing.

Lat­er on dur­ing the hear­ing, Dunn lament­ed that so many Repub­li­cans have sided with Trump and his destruc­tive, unpa­tri­ot­ic cult against the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion and the Amer­i­can people.

“Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being laud­ed as coura­geous heroes,” Dunn said. “And while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard? I guess in this Amer­i­ca, it is.”

Dunn asked the com­mit­tee mem­bers to inves­ti­gate not only the peo­ple who car­ried out the attack on the Capi­tol, but also the peo­ple who ordered the hit, not­ing that they are just as respon­si­ble for the events of Jan­u­ary 6th as the peo­ple who smashed win­dows, beat offi­cers, and ran­sacked offices.

Dunn is cor­rect that even in an era of mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion, the truth still mat­ters. Trump and his enablers can­not be allowed to rewrite his­to­ry. If we can’t get to the bot­tom of what hap­pened and prop­er­ly con­front this threat of domes­tic ter­ror­ism, we will be set­ting the stage for this to hap­pen again.

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  1. […] Four offi­cers tes­ti­fied to the House last week on mob vio­lence in Trump sup­port­ers’ Ja…. The same week, Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Matt Gaetz, Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene and Louie Gohmert showed up at a D.C. deten­tion cen­ter to vis­it riot­ers being held – unjust­ly they claim. They were not admitted. […]

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