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Police officers recount horrors from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol Police sergeant Aquilino Gonell; Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, and U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn are sworn in to testify during the opening hearing of the U.S. House (Select) Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2021.
REUTERS/Jim Bourg/Pool

Editor’s note: Paragraph 13 contains offensive language and terms of racial abuse

Four police officers who faced attacks and racial slurs as they defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 from a riot by then-President Donald Trump’s supporters were the first on Tuesday to testify before a U.S. House of Representatives investigatory committee.

It was the first hearing before the nine-member panel comprised of seven Democrats and two Republicans.

Below are some quotes from Tuesday’s hearing.

COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN BENNIE THOMPSON

“Some people are trying to deny what happened. To whitewash it… Let’s be clear. The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie.”

REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY

“If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic.”

U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER AQUILINO GONELL

“The rioters called me a ‘traitor,’ a ‘disgrace,’ and shouted that I (an Army veteran and police officer) should be ‘executed.’

“… What we were subjected to that day was like something from a medieval battlefield. We fought hand-to-hand and inch-by-inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process.

“… After order finally had been restored at the Capitol and after many exhausting hours, I arrived home at nearly 4 a.m. on January 7. I had to push away my wife from hugging me because of all the chemicals that covered my body,” Gonell said, fighting back tears. “I couldn’t sleep because the chemicals reactivated after I took a shower, and my skin was still burning.”

“… As an immigrant to the United States, I am especially proud to have defended the U.S. Constitution and our democracy on Jan. 6…”

METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE

“I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm.

“… I was electrocuted again and again and again with a taser. I’m sure I was screaming but I don’t think I could hear even my own voice.

“… The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” Fanone said, raising his voice and pounding the table.

CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER HARRY DUNN

“One woman in a pink ‘MAGA’ shirt yelled, ‘You hear that, guys, this n—-r voted for Joe Biden!’ Then the crowd, perhaps around twenty people, joined in, screaming ‘Boo! Fucking n—-r!’ No one had ever – ever – called me a ‘n—-r’ while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer…”

“Thankfully, at the moment, it didn’t hinder me from doing my job. But once I was able to process it, it hurt.”

METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER DANIEL HODGES

“Terrorists pushed through the line and engaged us in hand-to-hand combat. Several attempted to knock me over and steal my baton. One latched onto my face and got his thumb in my right eye, attempting to gouge it out. I cried out in pain and managed to shake him off before any permanent damage was done.”

“I couldn’t engage anyone fully for the moment I do is when another twenty terrorists move in to attack while I am occupied. It’s all we could do to keep ourselves on our feet and continue to fall back. I’m sprayed with a fire extinguisher and a red smoke grenade burned at our feet.”

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