Four cops put the lie to Republican claims of non-violent ‘patriots’ at Capitol insurrection

The purpose of the House select committee hearings is to get to the bottom of what really happened on Jan. 6. That mission began on Tuesday in a powerful way.

SHARE Four cops put the lie to Republican claims of non-violent ‘patriots’ at Capitol insurrection
U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, from left, Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn and Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges, pose for a photo on Tuesday after testifying before the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, from left, Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn and Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges, pose for a photo on Tuesday after testifying before the House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

AP Photos

It was brutal. It was deadly. It was no “loving crowd.”

The first day of the House select committee hearing investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol put to rest the cock-eyed storyline, pushed by former President Donald Trump, talk radio and Fox News, that the rioters were anything less than violent, traitorous law-breakers.

We watched video of a D.C. police officer, Michael Fanone, being dragged out and beaten by the insurrectionists. We heard him plead for his life: “I have kids.” We saw him lose consciousness. We heard an officer call out: “I need a medic! We need EMTs now!” We heard his partner say, “Mike, stay in there, buddy.”

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Yet a frightening number of Republicans who are not serving on the committee can’t see the problem. The real issue, they would have you believe, is that the police were unprepared. Because, you know, insurrections are gonna happen. Kids will be kids.

We listened to another D.C. officer, Daniel Hodges, describe how he was pinned against a metal door frame by the rioters and wondered whether he would die there or be dragged outside and “lynched by the mob.” He was beaten with his own face shield and baton. He was taunted: “Here come the boys in blue!” He was called a “traitor.” He was warned he would die on his knees.

And all around him, as he testified on Tuesday, were flags. Some read: “Jesus is my savior.” Others read: “Trump is my president.”

Yet the Republicans who are not serving on the committee would have you believe the riot was somehow not the fault of Trump and others who fed the lie that Trump had won the election. It was all the work of antifa and Black Lives Matter.

We listened to a Capitol Police officer, Harry Dunn, describe how he repeatedly was called the n-word for the apparently unforgivable offense of saying he had voted for Joe Biden. “You hear that, guys,” a man said, “this n—— voted for Joe Biden.” A crowd chanted: “Boo, f——— n—-”

Yet Trump would later say, “There was such love at that rally.”

We listened as another Capitol Police officer, Aquilino Gonell, described how the rioters sprayed him with chemicals, even after he had administered CPR to one of the insurgents. When Gonell finally made his way home at 4 a.m. the next day, his wife tried to hug him but he pushed her away. The chemicals saturating his skin and uniform were too toxic. He took a shower, and the pain welled up.

But Republican apologists would prefer to remind you the rioters were not armed.

Officer Gonell, who has been on medical leave for the last six months, had something to say about that:

“For those people who continue to downplay this violent attack on our democracy and officers,” he testified, “I suggest to them to look at the videos and the footage now, because common things were used as weapons, like a baseball bat, a hockey stick, a rebar, a flagpole, including the American flag, pepper spray, bear spray. Those are weapons, no matter if it is a pen. The way they were using these items, it was.”

The purpose of the House select committee hearings is to get to the bottom of what happened and why at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. To nail down facts, dispel myths and refute lies.

That mission began in a powerful way Tuesday with the testimony of four good cops.

No, there were no patriots climbing the walls, bashing through doors, beating police officers and hunting down senators on Jan. 6. But there were plenty of people who belong in prison.

We trust federal judges will agree.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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