The first hearing on the storming of the Capitol shows how traumatized the police and the United States are to this day. The extent of the violence described made those involved cry.
What has been going on in this US police officer since the storming of the Capitol on January 6th appears to be discharged in a brief gesture this Tuesday. Michael Fanone sits in front of the committee of inquiry, which is supposed to deal with what happened. Next to him three of his colleagues. Fanone’s facial features are determined. Suddenly he hits the table in front of him with his right hand so hard that the audience behind it jerks up for a moment. He shouts: “The indifference shown to my colleagues is a shame!”
Photo series with 30 pictures
Fanone quickly regained control. Even this brief outburst seems controlled, almost polite. What makes his struggle even harder and more painful, he says, is his knowledge that so many of his fellow citizens, for whom he is risking his life, downplay what happened or simply deny it. Fanone’s words speak of anger, despair, helplessness and sadness. Because if in doubt, many of his fellow citizens would vote again for Donald Trump. A man who recently said again that the insurgents were “loving people”.
“You will die today”
Fanone has been a police officer for more than 15 years and he thought he had seen everything, including as an undercover agent in the drug environment. But then Donald Trump spoke earlier this year, while the peaceful transfer of power was to take place in the Capitol. Only a few moments later, the mob stormed into the heart of US democracy and wanted to see Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence hanging because he had deserved it as a traitor. The people with the Make America Great Again hats had even built a gallows. Seven people died in the uprising. More than 100 police officers were injured, some seriously. The whole world watched live as US democracy wavered.
Fanone and his colleagues risked their lives defending Mike Pence, the MPs, and the Senators this January 6th. No other conclusion can actually come from who followed the statements of him and the three other police officers Aquilino Gonell, Daniel Hodges and Harry Dunn before the investigative committee. Videos were played over and over again, including those recorded by the police officers’ body cameras.
The scenes are degrading, brutal and violent. The officers are sprayed with tear gas, blinded with laser pistols, beaten with hockey sticks, spat at, verbally abused and kicked. In addition, you can hear calls like: “You are going to die today”, “Let’s get our weapons” or Trump’s mantra “Stop the steal”.
“You should be executed. This is nothing personal.”
In front of the politicians at this first hearing are four people who have many years of police, military and even war experience. All four cannot hold back their tears, struggle to calm down and apologize as they describe their experiences. The MPs themselves seem worn out. Republican Adam Kinzinger bursts into tears when questioned and thanks the four police officers for their courage in defending democracy: “I didn’t expect this to be so emotional today.”
Even his voice failed him: Republican Adam Kinzinger. (Source: imago images)
Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, for example, came from the Dominican Republic as an immigrant in 1992, fulfilled by his dream of the land of unlimited possibilities. In 1999 he proudly swore his oath, he says. Then he went to the Iraq war for George Bush. In front of the committee of inquiry he now speaks in a halting voice, close to tears: “I was more afraid than during my entire military operation in Iraq.” The protesters in the Capitol would have told him as a veteran and as a police officer: “You should be executed. This is nothing personal.”
Aquilino Gonell: He once dreamed of the land of unlimited possibilities. (Source: imago images)
It is this fact that makes witnesses and listeners so stunned that day: People from their own people wanted the overthrow. Implacable and seemingly obsessed with the idea that Donald Trump is still the rightful President of the United States.
“This is America. But it shouldn’t be like that.”
The African-American policeman Harry Dunn also described how racist the crowd was. “This is our house. President Trump has invited us,” the people would have called out to him. Nobody voted for Joe Biden. And then: “Did you hear? That n ***** voted for Joe Biden.” Boos. “Damn n *****. Put your gun down and we’ll show you what a n ***** you are.” Never before had anyone ever called him a n ***** while wearing that uniform. Dunn repeatedly pronounces the racist swear word in full length. The MPs seem speechless, shocked.
At some point after Dunn’s colleagues saved him from the mob, he was at the end of his tether, just stared in front of him and asked: “Is that America?” It’s a question that Democrat and California MP Adam Schiff asks him again later: “Is that America, Mister Dunn?” And the cop replies: “To be honest, yes this is America. But it shouldn’t be like that.”
Harry Dunn: The policeman was racially insulted. (Source: imago images)
Each of them was scared to death
The fourth cop to testify is Daniel Hodges. He is white and confirms the racist attacks. On that day, he was the only one to consistently speak of terrorists who had stormed the Capitol and justified his choice of words legally.
In videos you see Hodges partly covered in blood, squeezed between his own people and the angry crowd that apparently wants to lynch him. “You will die on your knees,” someone called out. They hit him in the chest and pulled the corona mask over his eyes. Hodges describes how he heard the sentence “Jesus is my savior. Trump is my President”.
A QAnon supporter said to him: “It is time to decide which side you are on.” In one of them he even remembers foaming at the mouth.
Daniel Hodges: He thought he was going to die. (Source: imago images)
These are scenes that all four officers describe in a similar way. Each of them was scared to death. According to their stories, they were sure that if they fell now they would die.
Fanone, who hit the table in his statement, was saved by his colleagues. To this day he remembers the sentence of a man who wanted to see him die: “Take his weapon! And kill him with his own weapon!” He kept telling the MPs about this traumatizing moment. At some point, lying on the floor, he repeatedly tortured people with electric batons, hoping for a spark of humanity, and tried to appeal to the perpetrators: “I have children.” He then woke up in the hospital. He suffered a heart attack and brain injuries. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The four policemen agreed. As the Dominican Republic-born Gonell put it, “It was an attempted coup that took place in the Capitol that day. If it had been another country, the US would have sent aid. People need to understand the scale of the event, that of happened that day. “
An important day for the USA
In fact, that is what this committee of inquiry is about: officially, history is being made here as of today. Even if that is indifferent to many Americans and they deny the stories. The statements are important for the self-assurance of the USA, at least that still large part of the country that wants to hold on to democracy. But also for the witnesses. You will be heard publicly. Facts are presented and documented with videos.
But all the descriptions of the witnesses cannot hide one thing: There are hardly any legal consequences, especially for the initiators of this uprising. Impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump had long since failed due to the votes of the Republican senators. The Republicans also flanked the hearing with their own press conferences this Tuesday.
First Donald Trump published a statement in which he attacked his favorite enemy, the Democratic majority leader Nancy Pelosi. Then the top Republican Elise Stefanik added: Nancy Pelosi did not provide sufficient protection when the Capitol was attacked, she said. Quite a distortion of the facts, indeed. And Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy called his fellow party members on the committee of inquiry, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, Pelosi Republicans.
And so the final request from policeman Harry Dunn remains a pious wish. Like his colleagues, he wants clarification on how all of this could happen. He chooses a drastic comparison: If a killer was caught, not only would he go to prison, but also the person who hired him. “There was an attack on January 6th and a hit man dispatched them.”
Ex-President Donald Trump said in his January 6th speech: “We’re walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. We’re going to the Capitol. We’ll try to help our Republicans, the weak. Because the strong don’t need our help. We’ll try to give them the pride and boldness they need to take our land back. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. ” It was a deadly march.