U.S. Capitol cops and DC Metropolitan Police officers called rioters ‘terrorists’, attacked Republicans who have downplayed January 6 and recalled the ‘medieval battle’ they faced during the first hearing of the select committee on Tuesday.
Officers Harry Dunn, Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges gave harrowing testimony to the panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – describing how they feared the rioters would kill them and criticized the treatment of their colleagues.
Dunn, a Capitol Police Sergeant, said he was called the n-word more than a dozen times. He described one moment where he said he engaged with rioters after one told him that nobody had voted for Joe Biden.
‘Well, I voted for Joe Biden,’ Dunn says he responded, although he said he doesn’t usually engage in politics. ‘Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?’
He said a female rioter wearing a MAGA then yelled out: ‘You hear that, guys, this n***er voted for Biden!’
“Boo! F****** n*****!’ Dunn said crowd members chanted. He estimated there were about 20 in the group.
Dunn said he spoke to other black officers who were there that day about what they encountered. ‘Put your gun down, and we’ll show you what kind of n***** you really are!’ is what one rioter told the officer, Dunn said.
Later in the day, reflecting on what happened, Dunn said he asked himself: ‘Is this America?’
Dunn said he had been receiving counseling for the trauma he endured that day, and urged others to seek help.
He also had a message for the rioters: ‘Democracy is bigger than any one person and any one party. You all tried to disrupt democracy that day. You all failed,’ he said.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) asked Dunn about his question: ‘Is this America?’
Pausing, he finally responded: ‘Frankly, I guess it is America. It shouldn’t be. But I guess that’s the way things are. I don’t condone it. I don’t like it.’
‘My blood is red. I’m an American citizen. I’m a police officer,’ he said at one point.
But he also described the country as better than the worst he experienced that day. ‘We represent the good side of America, human decency. We appeal to the good in people,’ Dunn said.
Officers also told the panel how they were confronted by people waving MAGA flags, Trump supporters saying President Biden didn’t win the election, and others racially abusing them.
Officer Hodges said: ‘To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement, more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our demands and continued to assault us.’
In his testimony, Gonell recounted how the ‘rioters call me traitor.’
(From left to right) Officers Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone, Daniel Hodges and Harry Dunn gave emotional testimony to the panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – describing how they feared the rioters would kill them and criticized the treatment of their colleagues
In his testimony, Gonell recounted how the ‘rioters call me traitor.’ ‘The rioters were vicious and relentless. We found ourselves in a violent battle,’ he said of that day.
GOP Rep Adam Kinzinger hugs Gonnell before the start of the hearing
‘The rioters were vicious and relentless. We found ourselves in a violent battle,’ he said of that day.
He described his experience ‘like something from a medieval battle. We fought hand to hand, inch by inch, to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by the mob intend on subverting our democracy.’
Most of the officers grew emotional watching the footage from January 6th. At one point, Fanone got up to offer comfort to Gonell.
Fanone, who suffered a heart attack from his injuries on January 6th, recounted how he was repeatedly tasered and threatened with his own gun by the rioters.
‘I was aware enough to recognize I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm. I was electrocuted, again and again and again with a taser,’ he said.
He recounted how he and his fellow officers held the line in one of the underground tunnels that lead from the Capitol to the lawmakers’ personal office buildings, holding back the mob so they could not break through.
Dunn said he was called the n-word more than a dozen times and one rioter said: ‘This n***er voted for Biden’
‘The narrowness of the hallway provided what was probably the only chance of holding back the crowd from entering your personal offices, the House and Senate chambers,’ he said.
He became visibly emotional, saying ‘what makes the struggle harder and more painful’ is seeing lawmakers ‘downplaying or outright denying what happened,’ even after he ‘went to hell and back’ for them.
Fanone, who suffered a heart attack from his injuries on January 6th, recounted how he was repeatedly tasered and threatened with his own gun by the rioters
‘Being an officer, you know your life is a risk whenever you walk out the door. Even if you don’t expect otherwise law abiding citizens take up arms against you. But nothing – truly nothing – prepared me to address those elected members of our government, who continue to deny the events of that day. And in doing so, betray their oath of office,’ Fanone said.
‘The indifference, shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,’ he said, banging on the table.
Fanone recounted how some in the crowd helped him, when he worried he would die and told them about his daughters.
‘I thought about using my firearm on my attackers, but I knew that if I did, I would be quickly overwhelmed in that in their minds would provide them with the justification for killing me,’ he said.
‘So I instead decided to appeal to the any humanity they might have. I said as loud as I could manage: I’ve got kids. Thankfully, some in the crowd stepped in and assisted me. Those few individuals protected me from a crowd and injure me toward the Capitol, until my fellow officers could rescue me,’ he said.
The committee began its hearing with dramatic new footage that day, showing Trump’s supporters over running the building and attacking police officers.
Officer Hodges (center) said: ‘To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue ling flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement, more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our demands and continued to assault us’
Kinzinger wipes his face while listening to the testimony from the four cops
Filled with shouting obscenities, the video showed the rioters throwing objects and gas canisters at police officers, screaming and shouting as they broke the Capitol’s windows to breach the building.
On the video, police officers are heard on the radio, begging for help as the rioters overwhelmed them.
‘Can I speak to Pelosi? We’re coming b***h,’ one rioter is seen saying of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
‘Hang Mike Pence,’ the crowd is heard shouting about the then-vice president.
The footage was shown to emphasize Democrats’ point that the rioters were trying over throw the government.
‘A peaceful transfer of power did not happen this year. It did not happen. Let that sink in. Think about it. A violent mob was pointed at the Capitol and told to win a trial by combat,’ Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chair of the panel, said in his opening statement.
‘These rioters were organized, they were ready for fight, and they came close to succeeding. It’s frightening to think about how close,’ he added.
Capitol cops call rioters ‘terrorists’ and describe ‘medieval battle’ at select committee hearing