The testimony of four law enforcement officers before a House select committee on July 27 2021 provided another yet another clear refutation to the disinformation pushed by right-wing outlets and operatives surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“Because I was among the vastly outnumbered group of law enforcement officers protecting the Capitol and the people inside it, I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country,” Washington D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone told the committee. “I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm as I heard chants of ‘Kill him with his own gun.’ I can still hear those words in my head.”
Fanone’s testimony came just over a month after he met with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and asked him to publicly denounce fellow Republican Party members who had attempted to downplay the attack. Fanone came away from that meeting dissatisfied with McCarthy’s claim that he would do so “on a personal level.”
McCarthy, who opposed the formation of a committee to investigate the attack and later refused to nominate participants on it after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of his initial picks, reportedly claimed that he did not watch the officers’ testimony because he was in “back-to-back meetings.”
Meanwhile, several other members of McCarthy’s right-wing group attempted to hold a “press conference” outside the Department of Justice headquarters, only to be drowned out by hecklers:
An attempt to hold a press conference by Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz and company was just shut down by protesters pic.twitter.com/7eP13hPZtT
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 27, 2021
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn testified in detail to the committee regarding the abuse and racial epithets hurled at him from the attackers, supporters of ousted former President Donald Trump. Dunn said:
More and more insurrectionists were pouring into the area by the Speaker’s Lobby near the Rotunda, and some wearing MAGA hats and shirts that said, “Trump 2020.” I told them to just leave the Capitol, and in response they yelled, “No, man, this is our house. President Trump invited us here. We’re here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president. Nobody voted for Joe Biden.”
I’m a law enforcement officer, and I do my best to keep politics out of my job, but in this circumstance I responded, “Well, I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?” That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, “You hear that guys? This nigger voted for Joe Biden.” Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming, “Boo, fucking nigger.” No one had ever, ever called me a nigger while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer.
The testimony further refuted the image cultivated by Trump’s right-wing supporters that they valued law enforcement; the same day as the hearing, the Huffington Post reported that a Pennsylvania man who wore a shirt bearing the slogan “back the blue” during the attack was arrested after he was caught bragging on video that he attacked officers with mace.
Both officers urged lawmakers investigating into the attack to determine whether any of their colleagues as well as Trump were directly involved.
“You guys are the only ones we’ve got to deal with crimes that occur above us,” said Washington D.C. Officer Daniel Hodges, who also testified before the committee. “I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this, if anyone in power coordinated or aided and abetted or tried to downplay, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack because we can’t do it. We’re not allowed to. And I think a majority of Americans are really looking forward to that as well.”