On day one of the January 6th hearings, DC Police Officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone, and Capitol Police Sergeants Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell painted a story of brutality, racism, and terror around the riot on Capitol Hill.
The insurrectionists hurled racial slurs at Sgt. Harry Dunn.
In his testimony, Dunn talked about the racist abuse he and other Black officers endured from the insurgents. He explained to Congress that the rioters, who were very specifically wearing MAGA hats and “Trump 2020” shirts, claimed they were there “to stop the steal” as “Joe Biden is not the president.”
Dunn remembered shouting to the mob, “Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?” The outburst that his comment caused was filled with racial slurs. He recalls hearing one insurrectionist reply, “You know what, guys? This n***** voted for Joe Biden.” The mob then began chanting, “Boo, f**king n*****.”
Dunn explained to Congress, “No one has ever called me a n***** while I’m wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer.” His fellow Black officers endured similar abuse at the hands of the crowd.
In conversation with Dunn, one officer explained that he had never been called the n-word to his face until the riot. While another remembered an insurgent telling him to “put your gun down and we’ll show you what kind of n[*****] you really are.”
Sgt. Aquilino Gonell believed he was going to die.
Gonell is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and a veteran of the U.S. Army. His brutal testimony revealed the threat the Capitol faced that day. He recalled an insurrectionist saying, “You’re not even an American,” once they saw the color of his skin under his mask. He explained, “I was more afraid to work at the Capitol than during my entire deployment in Iraq.”
He continued, “I was accused of betraying my oath and of choosing my paycheck over my loyalty to the US Constitution,” while the insurgents, “had the audacity to tell me it was nothing personal.” He explained that they used “menacing language” to taunt the officers and that “specific threats” were made around the lives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then Vice President Mike Pence.
Gonell recounted the state of the riot, saying, “The physical violence we experienced was horrific and devastating,” and comparing it to a “medieval battle.” He explained, “We were punched, kicked, shocked, and sprayed with chemical irritants,” all while being told to “pick the right side” by the Trump supporters pillaging the Capitol.
In a particularly terrifying moment, as he was being crushed by rioters, “I felt myself losing oxygen and recalled thinking to myself, This is how I’m going to die.”
Officer Michael Fanone was traumatized by the violence he experienced.
Officer Fanone’s abuse landed him in the hospital. He explained how he was “grabbed, beaten, and tased — all while being called a traitor to my own country.” The mob tried to strip him of his firearm, while beating him with anything they could, like heavy nearby objects or even their own hands. He remembered someone shouting that the rioters should try to “get his gun and kill him with his own gun.”
He was shot with a stun gun multiple times, as his own body camera footage captured that he was “assaulted and nearly killed as the mob attacked the Capitol that day.”
He continued, “During those moments, I remember thinking I would be torn apart or shot with my own weapon.” He remembered shouting “I have kids” to try and get the mob to remember that he was human. Luckily he was carried to safety by someone in the crowd, but not before he was beaten unconscious for four minutes.
When he got to the hospital, he was told that he had suffered a heart attack and a concussion at the hands of the mob. Now, he is “left with the psychological trauma and emotional anxiety of having suffered such a horrific event.”
Officer Daniel Hodges was almost crushed to death.
As he was trying to reclaim his baton from an insurgent who had stripped him of it, Officer Hodges recalled the rioter telling him “You’re on the wrong team,” while another shouted, “You will die on your knees.” Insurrectionists were sarcastically taunting the officers, saying “Here come the boys in blue…so brave” and calling them “storm troopers.”
Hodges explained that the “terrorists” at the riot threw down heavy objects and kicked him to the ground while toting around Blue Line flags and chanting “USA!” A man with a QAnon hoodie told him, “This is a time to choose what side of history to be on,” while another member of the mob said he should take off his tactical gear and “show solidarity” with the insurrection.
As he was guarding the doors to the Capitol, Hodges remembers an insurrectionist threatening him, saying, “You think your little pea shooter guns are gonna stop this crowd?” While, another man said, “No, we’re going in the building.”
Hodges explained how the mob began crushing him and other police officers against a door, footage of which has become a viral video since his testimony. As the rioters were crushing him to death, an insurgent grabbed his gas mask and beat his head against the door while making “guttural screams” and “foaming at the mouth”. Hodges continued, “He switched to pulling it off my head, the straps stretching against my skull and straining my neck.” He managed to remove his mask, exposing Hodges to the chemical irritants the mob was using.
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