Capitol agents call rioters ‘terrorists’ and describe ‘medieval battle’ during select committee hearing
US Capitol cops and DC Metropolitan Police officers called rioters “terrorists,” attacked Republicans who downplayed Jan. 6, and recalled the “medieval struggle” they faced at the select committee’s first hearing 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 their colleagues’ treatment .
They also told the panel how they faced people who waved MAGA flags, Trump supporters who said President Biden didn’t win the election, and others who racially abused them.
Dunn said he was called the n-word more than a dozen times and a rioter said, “This n***er voted for Biden.”
Agent Hodges said, “To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, the symbol of law enforcement support, carried more than once by the terrorists as they ignored our demands and continued to attack us.”
In his testimony, Gonell told how the “rioters call me a 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 told how the “rioters call me a traitor.” “The rioters were mean and ruthless. We were in a violent battle,” he said of that day.
GOP Rep Adam Kinzinger Hugs Gonnell Before Hearing Begins
“The rioters were mean and ruthless. We were in a violent battle,” he said of that day.
He described his experience “as something out of a medieval battle. We fought hand in hand, inch by inch, to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by the mob seeking to undermine our democracy.”
Most officers became emotional when they saw the images of January 6. At one point, Fanone stood up to comfort Gonell.
Fanone, who suffered a heart attack from his injuries on January 6, said he was repeatedly tasered and threatened with his own weapon by the rioters.
“I was aware enough to admit that I was in danger of being stripped and killed with my own firearm. I was electrocuted again and again and again with a taser,” he said.
He told how he and his colleagues held the line in one of the underground tunnels that lead from the Capitol to the lawmakers’ personal office buildings, holding back the crowd from breaking through.
Dunn said he was called the n-word more than a dozen times and a rioter said ‘This n***er voted for Biden’
“The narrowness of the hallway was probably the only chance to keep the crowd from entering your personal offices, the chambers of the House and Senate,” he said.
He became visibly emotional, saying that “what makes the fight harder and more painful” is seeing lawmakers “play down or downright deny what happened” even after he went “to hell and back” for them.
Fanone, who suffered a heart attack from his injuries on January 6, said he was repeatedly tasered and threatened with his own gun by the rioters.
“As an officer, you know your life is at risk when you walk out the door. Even if you don’t expect law-abiding citizens to take up arms against you. But nothing – absolutely nothing – prepared me to address the elected members of our government, who continue to deny the events of that day. And thereby betrayed their oath of office,” Fanone said.
“The indifference shown to my colleagues is outrageous,” he said, banging on the table.
Fanone told how some in the crowd helped him when he was afraid 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 quickly be overwhelmed because their thoughts would give them the justification for killing me,” he said.
“So I decided instead to appeal to the humanity they might have. I said as loud as I could: I have children. Fortunately, some in the crowd got in and helped me. Those few individuals protected me from a mob and wounded me in the direction of the Capitol until my fellow officers could rescue me,” he said.
The commission began its hearing that day with dramatic new footage showing Trump supporters running the building and attacking police officers.
Agent Hodges (center) said, “To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue ling flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement, carried more than once by the terrorists as they ignored our demands and continued to attack us.”
Kinzinger wipes his face as he listens to the testimony of the four officers
Filled with screaming obscenities, the video showed the rioters throwing objects and gas canisters at police officers, yelling and screaming as they broke into the Capitol windows to break through the building.
In the video, police officers can be heard on the radio begging for help as the rioters overwhelmed them.
‘Can I speak to Pelosi? We’re coming,” a rioter tells 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 to overthrow the government.
“There has been no peaceful transfer of power this year. It didn’t happen. Let that sink in. Think about it. A violent mob was targeted at the Capitol and told a battle-winning lawsuit,” Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, the panel’s chairman, said in his opening statement.
“These rioters were organized, they were ready to fight and they were almost successful. It’s scary to think about how close,’ he added.