“Hang Mike Pence!”, “Where’s Nancy?” are just a few of the vicious and disgusting words chanted at the Capitol on January 6th as rioters stormed the Capitol. A noose was brought on Capitol grounds, waving in the air as a sign for what’s to come.
Officers were bloodied and injured while protecting the Capitol. Trampled like they were nothing. When no action is taken and hate is allowed to fester, this is what happens.
Six months after that day, we now are proceeding with the first committee hearing. Four witnesses have bravely spoken today as they relive those events so we can all know from their first-hand experience. What they had to go through in order to protect congressmen and the Capitol.
Sergeant Gonell’s Testimony
One of the witnesses, Sergeant Gonell is the first to share his testimony on what happened on January 6th. As he spoke, he wants everyone to know what happened that day. To make sure accountability is taken for everyone involved in the violence. He calls them, “violent domestic terrorists.” He recalls the rioters telling him that he was “betraying his oath” and “choosing his paycheck over his oath.”
Sergeant Gonell was called a traitor, a disgrace, and should be executed by these rioters. He went on to say, “I was more afraid at the Capitol than during my entire army deployment in Iraq.” Let those words sink in. A U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant was more afraid at our Capitol than in foreign territory. If that doesn’t put into perspective the severity of the situation, then you aren’t listening. You have your heart and ears turned off to the situation. Ignorance is not bliss.
Sergeant Gonell recalls how he was trying to pull back a Metropolitan officer to the police line. He tried to help that officer. Then Sergeant Gonell was losing oxygen while being crushed by attackers. No one could help him.
Even after, Sergeant Gonell still gave CPR to a rioter in order to save her life. Even after all the violence and hatred spewed at him, he still did his duty in helping a woman who needed medical attention. That is a selfless act that more people need to know about. Despite having injuries, he went back to work the next day to help out. Six months later, and Sergeant Gonell and many other officers are still suffering from these injuries.
To end his testimony, Sergeant Gonell says that once his physical therapy has ended, he’ll continue to serve his country. He hopes that everyone in the position of authority has the conviction to do their part by investigating January 6th and find out why this was able to happen.
Officer Fanone’s Testimony
The next witness to speak is Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone. He recalls that he started as a Capitol police officer after the events of 9/11 happened. Officer Fanone was beaten, called a traitor, and at points in danger of being killed with his own equipment. Rioters chanting, “Kill him with his own gun.” those words still haunt him to this day.
Officer Fanone saw 30 officers lined up shoulder to shoulder, injured and bleeding. Making sure they keep their line together to prevent the rioters from entering the tunnel. When asked if those officers wanted a break, they all said no. Instead, they offered it to other officers in need.
The violent mob dragged Officer Fanone from the other officers. They ripped off his badge and took his ammo. They tased him over and over again. The roaring violent crowd silenced his screams of agony. In those moments, he thought of his 4 daughters who could’ve lost their father that day.
Later at the hospital, the doctors told him that he had a heart attack, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) a concussion, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He feels like he went to hell and back to protect the people in the Capitol. Fanone stresses the point of how disgraceful the indifference of treatment that he and his fellow officers are given.
Hearing the anger and emotion in his voice is heart-wrenching. He has every right to be angry. He and his fellow officers risked their lives to protect the Capitol. Still, there are people out there denying the horrific events of that day. We need to do better for every officer that now suffers physically and mentally. It’s time for every congressman to hold those rioters accountable for this violence.
Officer Fanone ends his testimony by saying the time to fully recognize the officers is now. He couldn’t be more right.
Officer Hodges’ Testimony
Officer Hodges was at former President Donald Trump’s rally just before the violent attack. He noticed that the people attending the rally weren’t just there to peacefully protest. They came dressed in tactical gear with weapons by their side. Someone approached a fellow officer saying, “Is this all the manpower you have, do you think you’re going to be able to stop all these people?”
After seeing the crowd makes its way towards the Capitol, he noticed a fight breaking out between a black man who was trying to back away and a white man wearing a trump mask. Officer Hodges and his fellow officers broke up the crowd. The protesters continued towards the Capitol after the fight ended.
Later on, he overheard that the explosives team confirmed the placement of a bomb near the Capitol. The thought of the bomb never left his head all day. At first, the officers were met with verbal abuse and booing from the rioters. The officers continued to march through the violent crowd. A man tried to rip the baton out of Officer Hodges’ hands. A rioter told him that he would die by his (the rioters) knees.
Officer Hodges tried to push through and make a path for the other officers. He helped get the rioters off of fellow officers once he noticed the attacks. A rioter who was scaling the building threw a heavy object at him. Hitting his head and causing him to become disoriented. The rioters took his radio and he was unable to communicate with others. He had no idea when more help was arriving.
The final testimony of Officer Hodges ended by saying they had to wait for the area to be cleared and confirmed to be safe before anyone could leave. Many officers left to go to the hospital for treatment.
Officer Dunn’s Testimony
Harry Dunn is the last officer to provide his testimony. He begins by having a moment of silence for the fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Officer Dunn knew that there was going to be a protest on January 6th. At first, he thought it was a peaceful protest. Then they got the first alert saying that there was going to be a time to arm up.
He heard the protesters yell, “Stop the steal” and “We want Trump” but it was still peaceful at that time. Then reports came to him that large crowds were moving towards the Capitol and that rioters breached the west side. Officer Dunn grabbed a metal chest plate. Before this day, he never saw people beat officers.
Officer Dunn received a message that rioters were inside the Capitol, he went inside himself. He came face to face with rioters. They were holding the confederate flag, a Make America Great Again flag, and a Don’t Tread on Me flag. Officer Dunn blocked them from going further. As he was heading towards the Speaker’s Lobby, he helped a fellow officer in need.
Officer Dunn never heard racial slurs thrown at him while in uniform until this day. The rest of that afternoon was a blur to him, as he helped people in need of medical attention.
He started crying and yelling, “How could something like this happen? Is this America?” other officers heard his cries and consulted him. After the attack, members of Congress spoke out on the events. Minority leader, Kevin McCarthy spoke saying how the violence was unacceptable and undemocratic. McCarthy said that was the saddest day he had working at the Capitol.”
Officer Dunn still suffers emotional trauma to this day from January 6th. He is seeking help to work through that trauma, but those events still linger in his mind. Officer Dunn participated in many peer support programs. He acknowledges the pain that his fellow officers are facing. He lets them know that there is nothing wrong with seeking emotional counseling.
If you or someone you know needs to talk about the events or anything that’s emotionally distressing, there are many online services. As Officer Dunn said, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
The ending message of Officer Dunn thanks Congress, his fellow officers that helped protect the Capitol that day, as well as the American people for supporting him and the officers. He then addresses the rioters by saying that they tried to disrupt democracy and failed.
Chairman Mr. Thompson closes the first hearing by thanking the officers for protecting the Capitol on January 6th. He then said that they will not fail the responsibility they have to investigate the insurrection.
America will be watching in the hopes that Chairman Mr. Thompson will stay true to his word. America will be watching in the hopes that justice will be served. Chairman Mr. Thompson is right, this can never happen again. It’s time for Congress to do their part in making sure it never happens again. To preserve our democracy, true accountability must be held. It’s the only way. We will never forget the events of January 6th. It’s crucial to our democracy to make sure this never happens again.