4 officers recount their heroic efforts to protect Congress at the US Capitol
By Dami Igbinyemi
The House Select Committee formed to investigate the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol holds its first hearing today with testimonies from officers tasked with protecting Congress. The four testimonies will come from DC Metropolitan Police Officers Daniel Hodges, Michael Fanone, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, and Sargent Aquilino Gonell. All officers described the violence they witnessed as terrorists storming the building.
“The physical violence we experienced was horrific and devastating,” Gonell told the committee. “My fellow officers and I were punched, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants, and even blinded with eye-damaging lasers by a violent mob who apparently saw us, law enforcement, officers dedicated to ironically protecting them as US citizens, as an impediment to their attempted insurrection.”
The committee showed several video footage from police officers’ body cameras and the building’s CCTV cameras of what exactly happened when the terrorists stormed the Capitol. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the two Republicans on the panel, choked up during his allotted questioning time. He then went on to praise the officers for their actions on January 6, 2021, and criticize how other Republicans are handling the inquiries about the riot as a political battle.
“I’m a Republican, I’m a conservative,” he said, adding, “It’s time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies⸺ We need to reject those who promote it.”
The Select Committees consist of nine members with two Republicans and seven Democrats, all appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, will serve as the committee’s chairman. In the weeks ahead, the Committees will get to the bottom of what exactly happened on January 6, 2021, and what actions they will take to rectify it.
There was some tension between Speaker Pelosi and Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy regarding Republicans participating in the committee. Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s five appointees for the committee saying that they would undermine the group’s integrity. McCarthy then withdrew his picks and threatened to create the Republican-led investigation.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” McCarthy said.
When the initial committee was announced, no Senate Republicans voted in favour of it, seemingly closing the door on a bipartisan committee. Speaker Pelosi moved forward with the committee anyways and appointed two Republicans, Cheney and Kinzinger, to serve in the spirit of bipartisanship.
The Republicans continue to downplay the violent terrorist attack on the US Capitol and one representative even went as far as calling the insurrection a tourist event. Former US President Donald Trump called the event a peaceful, loving get-together. Yet on the day of the terrorist attack, 144 officers were injured with 7 dying.