A little over six months after a violent insurrection to overtake the U.S. Capitol took place, members of Congress listened to testimony from officers who were on the front line risking their lives.
The U.S. House Select Committee, headed by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss), began hearing testimony Tuesday morning from officers who were on the front line during the January 6 insurrection.
Capitol police officers recount scenes from horrific day
Aquilino Gonell (U.S. Capitol Sergeant), Michael Fanone (DC officer), Daniel Hodges (DC Officer), and Harry Dunn (U.S. Capitol officer) all testified before the committee about what they heard and saw on January 6.
“Capitol police officers and Metropolitan police officers were engaged in desperate hand-to-hand fighting with rioters across the West Lawn,” said Officer Dunn. “Until then, I had never seen anyone physically assault Capitol police or MPD, let alone witness mass assaults being perpetrated on law enforcement officers. I witnessed the rioters using all kinds of weapons against officers including flag poles, metal bike racks that they had torn apart and various kinds of projectiles. Officers were being bloodied in the fighting, many were screaming, and many were blinding, coughing from chemical irritants being sprayed in their faces.”
Committee plays video footage from insurrection attempt
Video was played by committee members giving onlookers a first-person glimpse of what officers faced that day. Five people died as a result of the insurrection, including U.S. Capitol Officer Brian D. Sicknick.
Officer Dunn was inside the Capitol building attempting to keep rioters from entering the chambers where other vulnerable officers who were decontaminating from the chemical attacks were positioned. The rioters claimed that they were there to “stop the steal” and that “nobody voted for Biden”.
Officer describes White supremacist crowd
“I’m a law enforcement officer and I do my best to keep politics out of my job. But in this circumstance I responded ‘well I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?’,” Officer Dunn recalled.
“That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled ‘you hear that guys? This n*gger voted for Joe Biden’. Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming ‘Boo! F*cking n*gger!’. No one had ever, ever called me a n*gger while wearing the uniform of a Capitol officer. In the days following the attempted insurrection other Black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6. One officer told me he had ‘never in his entire 40 years of life been called n*gger to his face and that streak ended on January 6’. Yet another Black officer later told me he had been confronted by insurrectionists in the Capitol who told him ‘put your gun down, and we’ll show you what kind of n*gger you really are’,” Officer Dunn told the Committee.
The Committee Chair, Rep. Thompson has publicly said that he would not be reluctant to call twice-impeached President Trump and members of his White House to testify.
“I think we need to have access to all the available information. And part of what we plan to do is hire some of the best people, who can help us get access to that kind of information. So, if we need to get it by request or by subpoena I’m not reluctant to do that either,” Thompson said.