September 22, 2021

Police testify to riots in US capital

Four police officers defended the US capital on January 6 and presented a graphic of their violent clashes with rioters on Tuesday, when a congressional panel launched an investigation into the deadly coup.

Several Republicans have publicly opposed the probe into alleged attacks on supporters of former President Donald Trump, killing witnesses who were targeted by mobs for blocking Biden’s election victory certificate. Going, kicking, pepper spray, death threats and branded traitors were declared.

“It was something of a medieval war,” Capitol Police Sgt. Aquino Gonel, a veteran of the U.S. military, told the panel.

Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, has led successful pressure to impeach President Donald Trump, but all eyes are on Senate Republican Mitch McConnell to decide whether to vote to punish the president. ۔ Photo: AFP / Brendan Smyalowski

“I remember thinking to myself, this is how I will die defending this door,” said Gonelle, who expressed shock and anger at continuing to “whitewash the facts.”

“How did the terrorists attack the line and keep us busy fighting each other,” said Daniel Hodges, a Metropolitan Department officer. At least one rioter tried to get the policeman’s eyes out.

At the first hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 attack, the arrestees gave preliminary evidence, which was opened with videos of hair-raising riots.

But it was the officers’ more than three hours of emotional, often cruel, siege accounts that led to months of verification scrutiny.

U.S. capital riots
On January 6, 2021, in Washington DC, after Trump supporters attacked inside the US capital, congressional staff stopped themselves. Photo: AFP / Olivier Dollar

Half a year after the worst attack on the capital by hundreds of Trump supporters in two centuries, more than 535 riot-related arrests have been made, according to officials.

But the committee’s work has become a political flashpoint.

Conspiracy theories have gained momentum. Some Republican lawmakers insisted that January 6 was a peaceful demonstration and endorsed Trump’s baseless claim that the election was rigged.

After such false stories broke out, the committee members formed their investigative mission as an appeal to the truth.

Trump supporters
Supporters of US President Donald Trump demonstrate outside the Philadelphia Convention Center Photo: AFP / Kina Bettencourt

“We know there is evidence of a coordinated planned attack,” Benny Thompson, the panel’s Democratic chairman, told the hearing.

“We know that the men and women who created the storm in the capital want to derail the peaceful transfer of power in this country.”

Thomson vowed that the committee would be “guided by facts only”, adding that “there is no place for politics or partnership in this investigation.”

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy opposes select committee to investigate mob attack Photo: AFP / Saul LOEB

Outraged by Trump’s aggressive rally in Washington that day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shouted, “Hang Mike Pence!” Shouting slogans, enraged people entered the capital and fought. And tried to block Biden’s victory in the November presidential election.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn recalled racially motivated incidents, including N-Word, which was thrown at him by the rioters, most of whom belonged to ultra-nationalist and white supremacist groups.

U.S. capital riots
Michael Fanon, a Washington police officer who was beaten by rioters, was among the first to testify before a congressional select committee. Photo: Getty Images North America / Win MCEME

Michael Fenon, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department, said he was called a “traitor” by the rioters, who knocked him unconscious and beat him.

“I never expected to think I was in this situation,” said Fenon, who suffered a heart attack during the uprising. “

“The apathy shown with my colleagues is shameful!” Fenon sat down.

The fiery comment was aimed at Republican lawmakers who boycotted the committee and thwarted it on January 6. But it also touched on the building’s security flaws.

During or immediately after the coup. Five people were later killed, in addition to two policemen who later committed suicide. More than 100 officers were injured.

Trump has dismissed the investigation as “fake and highly biased” and accused Pelosi of failing to protect the capital.

Pelosi stepped back, and with the announcement of his office, Republicans are engaged in “isolation, distortion and extinction.”

And Officer Gonel asked Trump to describe the rioters as a loving mob, and “incited the former president to continue fighting.”

Pelosi and others wanted a two-way, independent commission to investigate the riots and its origins. Even House Minority Leader Leon McCarthy voiced support in January.

But with growing concern among Republicans that the investigation could be politically damaging to his party, he opposed a deep dive.

The House Republican leadership pulled out of five of its committee appointments last week after Pelosi rejected two of McCarthy’s re-election.

To avoid the All-Democratic panel, Pelosi nominated two Republicans: Trump’s critics Liz Cheney and Adam Kissinger.

“No member of Congress should now try to defend unforgivable, obstruct this investigation, or whitewash what happened that day.”

She also wants to take full account of what the Trump administration already knows, insisting that it wants to investigate all White House communications from that day forward.

Kissinger made an emotional appeal to fellow Republicans.

“A lot of people in my party think this is just another bigotry fight. It’s toxic,” he said.

Congress will soon begin a long, long summit. Thomson indicated that a new hearing could be held during the break, and committee members were eager to present documents and further witnesses.

Copyright AFP. All rights reserved.

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