WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are launching their investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection Tuesday with a focus on the law enforcement officers who were attacked and beaten as the rioters broke into the building — an effort to put a human face on the violence of the day.
The police officers who are scheduled to testify endured some of the worst of the brutality. They were punched, trampled, crushed and sprayed with chemical irritants. They were called racial slurs and threatened with their own weapons as the mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters overwhelmed them, broke through windows and doors and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win.
“We’re going to tell this story from the beginning,” said Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who sits on the new House panel that is investigating the attack. “The moral center of gravity is these officers who put their lives on the line for us.”
Testifying will be Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.
In previous interviews, Dunn has said that attackers yelled racial slurs and fought him in what resembled hand to hand combat as he held them back. Gonell, an Iraq veteran, detailed surgery on his foot and injuries from which he struggled to recover. Fanone has described being dragged down the Capitol steps by rioters who shocked him with a stun gun and beat him. Hodges was beaten and crushed between two doors, and his bloody face and anguished screams were caught on video.
The panel’s first hearing comes as partisan tensions have only worsened since the insurrection, with many Republicans playing down, or outright denying, the violence that occurred and denouncing the Democratic-led investigation as politically motivated. Democrats now want to launch the probe — and win public support for it — by reminding people how brutal it was, and how the law enforcement officers who were sworn to protect the Capitol suffered grave injuries at the hands of the rioters.
“What we really want to try to communicate during the hearing is what it was like to be on the front lines for these brave police officers,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, another member of the panel. “How vastly outnumbered they were, how well militarized the members of the crowd were.”
The hope, Schiff said, is to “inform the public of what really happened that day, particularly in light of the efforts to whitewash that part of our history now.”
The chairman of the committee, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, says the hearing will “set the tone” of the probe, which will examine not only Trump’s role in the insurrection but the right-wing groups involved in coordination before the attack, white supremacists among them.