- Title: Police officers recount horrors from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol
- Date: 27th July 2021
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (JULY 27, 2021) (UNRESTRICTED POOL) ***WARNING: CONTAINS PROFANITY*** (SOUNDBITE) (English) DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA POLICE OFFICER DANIEL HODGES SAYING: "Directly in front of me, a man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask and used it to beat my head against the door. He switched to pulling it off my head, the straps stretching against my skull and straining my neck. He never uttered any words I recognized, but opted instead for guttural screams. I remember him foaming at the mouth." HODGES TESTIFYING (SOUNDBITE) (English) DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA POLICE OFFICER DANIEL HODGES SAYING: "I knew I couldn't sustain much more damage and remain upright. At best, I would collapse and be a liability to my colleagues, at worst, be dragged out into the crowd and lynched. Unable to move or otherwise signal the officers behind me that I needed to fall back, I did the only thing that I could do and screamed for help." U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER HARRY DUNN TESTIFYING (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER HARRY DUNN SAYING: "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?' That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, 'You hear that, guys? This nigger voted for Joe Biden.' Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming 'Boo. Fucking nigger.'"
- Embargoed: 10th August 2021 17:29
- Keywords: Capitol Trump election riot security
- Location: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES
- City: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Lawmaking,Government/Politics,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA009ENMADDZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS PROFANITY/RACIAL SLUR IN SHOT 30
Four police officers delivered wrenching testimony on Tuesday (July 27) on their struggle to defend the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 against a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters, describing to lawmakers how they were beaten, taunted with racial insults from rioters and faced threats like "kill him with his own gun."
The testimony came as a Democratic-led House of Representatives investigatory committee held its first hearing, with chairman Bennie Thompson and a Republican panel member, Liz Cheney, emphasizing the need for a thorough probe.
Thompson and Cheney warned against "whitewashing" the riot even as Trump allies try to downplay the incident and accuse the committee of political motivations. Cheney added that she hopes the nation does not become so blinded by partisanship that "face another January 6th every four years."
The panel heard the most detailed public account to date of what law enforcement officers faced during the rampage, as hundreds of Trump supporters sought to block Congress from formally certifying now-President Joe Biden's election victory. The officers held back tears as they testified.
The nine-member panel was formed after Senate Republicans blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the attack. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, named the committee's members.
District of Columbia police officer Michael Fanone described being pulled into the crowd of rioters, beaten, "electrocuted again and again and again with a Taser," and robbed of his badge.
During the attack, Fanone said, he heard a rioter say he would "kill him with his own gun." Fanone said he was beaten unconscious and doctors told him he suffered a heart attack.
Fanone railed against people, including some Republican lawmakers, who have downplayed the violence or blamed left-wing groups instead of Trump's supporters.
"I feel like I went to hell and back to protect the people in this room," Fanone said, referring to lawmakers. "But too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist or hell actually wasn't that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful," Fanone testified, his voice rising as he slammed his hand onto the witness table.
Fanone appeared on Tuesday alongside his Washington police colleague Daniel Hodges and Capitol police officers Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn.
Gonell described being pummeled by rioters fired up by Trump's false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.
"What we were subjected to that day was like something from a medieval battlefield. We fought hand-to-hand and inch-by-inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process," added Gonell.
Gonell fought back tears as he recalled his family watching the violence unfold on television and wondering if he was alive.
Dunn, who is Black, said rioters repeatedly called him a racial slur while he was trying to defend the Capitol. Dunn said he challenged their claims that no one had voted for Biden by telling them that he himself was a Biden supporter.
Hodges recalled how rioters pinned him against a door and a man tore his gas mask off and used it to beat him. "I remember him foaming at the mouth," he said. Hodges referred to the mob as "terrorists" multiple times.
Four people died on the day of the violence, including one rioter fatally shot by police and three others who died of natural causes. A Capitol police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the following day. Two police officers who took part in the defense of the Capitol later took their own lives. More than a hundred police officers were injured.
Police were overwhelmed when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, smashing windows, fighting with officers and sending lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence scrambling for safety. The riot followed Trump's speech to supporters in which the Republican repeated his false claims about voting fraud.
"Some people are trying to deny what happened, to whitewash it, to turn the insurrectionists into martyrs," Thompson said.
"And all of it: for a vile, vile lie," added Thompson, referring to Trump's false claims of election fraud.
Ahead of the hearing, Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, tried to shift blame for the attack onto Pelosi, saying she had been responsible for security arrangements at the Capitol. McCarthy declined to say whether he thought Trump bore any responsibility.
(Production: Katharine Jackson)
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