Jan. 6

DEMOCRACY HUNG IN BALANCE: Capitol Police Officers engaged in a prolonged hand-to-hand struggle with right-wing supporters of then-President Donald Trump, some toting weapons, and kept them occupied long enough to allow Vice President Mike Pencewhom the rioters were chanting about hangingand Members of Congress to get to safe locations within the Capitol Building last Jan. 6. One of the officers, who suffered serious injuries during the battle, said, 'We held them back as long as we could. We couldn't hold them forever.'

The day after the deranged traitor Donald Trump told journalist Hugh Hewitt last September that he was considering running for President in 2024, a Capitol Police Officer who generally avoids political discussions was asked how he felt about that.
 
"How do you think I feel?" he replied. "He's the reason I got the [crap] kicked out of me."
 
The remark was far more evocative of the beating this officer—who did not want his name used—had offered the evening after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building last Jan. 6, saying at the time that aside from being "body-sore," he was alright.
 
A day before the anniversary of that effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election to keep Mr. Trump in power—if necessary by hanging Vice President Mike Pence and executing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—more information had been indirectly learned about the Police Officer's injuries to his shoulder and back, and that one of the crazed marauders who had been incited by the then-President  to invade the Capitol had bashed his hand with a pipe.
 
His doctor had advised him, the Police Officer said, that rather than undergoing operations, a safer course was to let a combination of rest and physical therapy heal the injuries to his shoulder and back, even while continuing to work.
 
Couldn't Hold Line Forever
 
When he had first spoken about the siege at the Capitol the night after the Trump coup was blunted, there was already chatter in some media outlets that a cluster of officers had either been complicit or too passive in their response to the thousands of Trump supporters who had stormed into the building.
 
It wasn't remotely true, the Police Officer said then; he and his colleagues had been caught short-handed and ultimately were overwhelmed by the mob over the course of hours of trying to fight them off. 
 
"We held them back as long as we could," he said. "We couldn't hold them forever."
 
What was particularly frustrating to him was the lack of better preparation by his superiors. He said he and another colleague in the force's intelligence unit had warned that based on information they had received, some of it online, there was likely to be violence on the day when Congress was supposed to certify the results of the Electoral College, officially making Joe Biden the President-elect and Mr. Trump a lame duck.
 
But his superiors ignored their advice, and no additional preparations were taken, and once the takeover of the building began, reinforcements were too slow to arrive, with the House Select Committee that's investigating the events leading up to and beyond the insurrection now examining who may have been responsible for the delay. The Police Officer and a colleague with whom he'd been friends since their time in the Capitol Police training academy several years earlier had rushed to the west front of the building, where much of the action took place, and upon arriving discovered "it was just me and him" trying to hold off the angry mob.
 
Sprayed From Both Sides
 
As the struggle with the people Mr. Biden dubbed "domestic terrorists" intensified, just before they broke the line of officers, the Police Officer was yanked into the crowd and pummeled. When he pulled himself loose and rejoined the line of his colleagues still trying to hold off the rioters, he realized that his gas mask had become unsealed. He was trying to reseal it just at the moment when other cops turned pepper spray loose, which some in the crowd countered by unleashing bear spray.
 
Overcome by the toxins, the Police Officer went to his knees, making him an easy target for the thug who smashed his hand with a pipe. He was lying near a stage that was supposed to be used for the new President's swearing-in two weeks later, and the officer crawled under it and a colleague who heard and saw him quickly barricaded a couple of doors to try to protect them from further harm.
 
"It felt like I was back overseas," the Police Officer said, referring to a tour of duty in Afghanistan with his Army Reserve unit, which was regularly subjected to late-night mortar fire aimed at their base. 
 
When he pulled off his glove from the hand that had been whacked with the pipe, blood spurted from it, leading him to believe—mistakenly, he would later learn—it was broken. But he returned to the struggle, at one point jumping from a building ledge, followed by his friend from the academy, to aid some outnumbered colleagues.
 
He administered CPR to a woman who'd been among the invaders—and who learned had later died, and when that was done finally took his battered body to a nearby hospital. When he arrived, he said, his uniform was so soaked with contaminants that he was told to remove it and change into a hospital gown before he was treated and his injuries diagnosed. Dressed in hospital clothes, he arrived at his Virginia home at 2 a.m. the following morning. slightly less than two hours before Congress certified the election results—despite votes against by 147 House Republicans.
 
Not wanting to awaken his pregnant fiancee, he sat down in his living room to watch a movie and fell asleep.
 
2 Killed, Others Left
 
By the following evening, he knew that a popular fellow officer, Brian Sicknick, had died from his struggles with the marauding mob. Another colleague, Billy Evans, three months later would be killed when a crazed man drove his vehicle into a barricade outside the Capitol and struck him.
 
Other members of the Capitol Police with whom he'd been friendly had left the job. Some were disillusioned by the lack of support from their supervisors, which continued when one commander addressing them soon after the insurrection said he wasn't going to compliment them for their forbearance and bravery, because they had merely done what was required of them.
 
During a July 27 congressional hearing, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn spoke of being subjected to racial slurs and called "traitor" by members of the mob. Sgt. Aquilino Gonell testified about the "horrendous and devastating" physical violence he and his colleagues had suffered, adding that judging by the language their assailants used, "Many of these attackers had law-enforcement and military experience."
 
That reality, and the degree to which Mr. Trump was supported by police groups because of his unconditional backing of cops, was reflected in the failure of city police unions to condemn him directly. 
 
But a District of Columbia Metro Police Officer, Michael Fanone, who during the riots suffered a heart attack and was later diagnosed with a concussion, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, told the hearing that what bothered him most was the unwillingness of many Republican Members of Congress to condemn what had happened.
 
"What makes the struggle harder and more painful is that so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life  at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened," he testified. "I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room. But too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist or that hell wasn't so bad."
 
Family Sustained Him
 
The Police Officer, unlike some of his colleagues, didn't seek counseling for the psychological trauma he endured, saying that the love of his fiancee and the joys of becoming a father had given him the emotional sustenance to get through the days and stay in the job. He noted with a certain amusement, though, that whatever compassion his superiors felt for those who had taken the worst of it a year earlier, he had been given a double shift Jan. 4 "just in case something happened," and was scheduled for a 12-hour tour on the anniversary of the attempt to violently nullify the election results.
 
It was, he said, a continuation of the "crazy hours" he and his colleagues had been working since two months before the 2020 election, with 12-hour tours becoming the norm following the insurrection.  
 
And so he was elsewhere in the Capitol that Thursday when Mr. Biden, speaking in Statuary Hall, declared, "Outnumbered in the face of a brutal attack, the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the National Guard and other brave law-enforcement officials saved the rule of law."  
 
The President continued, "Our democracy held. We the people endured...For the first time in our history, a President had not just lost an election—he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol. But they failed. They failed."
 
That had not been a certainty, he said, evoking the memory of "Rioters rampaging, waving, for the first time inside this Capitol, the Confederate flag that symbolizes the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart...A mob breaking windows, kicking in doors, breaching the Capitol, American flags on poles being used as weapons, as spears. Fire extinguishers being thrown at the heads of police officers. A crowd that professes their love for law enforcement assaulted those police officers. Dragged them, sprayed them, stomped on them."
 
'Pain, Scars Run Deep'
 
Mr. Biden mentioned having mourned both Officer Sicknick and Officer Evans in the Capitol Rotunda, then, alluding to two responding police officers who took their own lives in the weeks following the invasion, added, "We think about the others who lost their lives and were injured and everyone living with the trauma of that day, and those defending this capital, to members of Congress in both parties and their staffs, to reporters, cafeteria workers, custodial workers and their families. Don't kid yourself. The pain and scars from that day run deep."  
 
The Police Officer shrugged off the suggestion that he had shown something special, having kept coming to work after enduring the beating he took at the hands of professed patriots who had devalued that word by following Mr. Trump into the pit of American infamy.
 
"I was just doing my job," he said.
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