While the rest of the country watched in horror on January 6, 2021 as rabid Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building to thwart a democratic election, Capitol Police officers were on the ground, overwhelmed, being beaten with flag poles, shields, and anything else the rioters could grab as they plowed through the officers and into the building.
Some of those officers appeared in an interview with ABC News reporter David Muir, including Sgt. Aquillino Gonell, Officer Harry Dunn, and Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges. All three testified before Congress about their experiences that day, and the officers said that the damage done to them personally has not been easy to manage since.
ABC News reports that Sgt. Aquilino Gonell told Muir:
‘From the way I sleep, eating breakfast, making sure I don’t hurt myself putting my shirt on. The way I walk, the way I play with my son. The phone calls from the Justice Department, from the FBI, from the department, asking ‘do I recognize this individual?’… It hasn’t been easy.’
The officers defended members of Congress and the Vice President and his family on January 6 and have dealt with the trauma of that day ever since. One officer, Brian Sicknick, died the day after the insurrection from complications following a stroke. Four others have committed suicide in the wake of January 6. The officers face that tragedy anew every day that they go to work.
‘Gonell and his fellow officers were outnumbered. By the time the rioters left the building, he would be one of dozens officers injured in the first attack on the U.S. Capitol since 1814: Gonell was sprayed with chemicals and crushed by the crowds — his left shoulder and one of his feet later requiring surgery.’
For Dunn, the only black officer in the group during the interview, told Congress that he was also verbally assaulted by Trump supporters yelling racial slurs as Dunn wondered “Is this America?” Although Trump finally cancelled his “news conference” for the anniversary of the attack, it is sure that his allies will use any opportunity to downplay the aftermath of the attack. Dunn and his fellow officers will not allow that to go unanswered.
‘I think it’s just as simple as I work in a crime scene. Going to work at the Capitol every day, it’s a constant reminder of what happened…I return to the crime scene every single day. And what more memory do you get than just going to the scene of the crime every day?’
Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell is reminded of Jan. 6, 2021, every morning. https://t.co/twyO31hOCF
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 5, 2022