From insurrectionist Ryan Kelley to former police chief James Craig, the silence was equally deafening
LANSING — On January 6th, political extremists incited a violent insurrection on the U.S. Capitol grounds that killed five and injured 140 officers. This week, some of the officers that were on duty the day of testified before Congress in the House Select Committee’s first hearing to investigate how the brutality unfolded.
Every Republican gubernatorial candidate once again looked the other way and refused to condemn the violence. The silence was expected from candidates like Ryan Kelley who stormed the Capitol himself, but was particularly damning coming from James Craig who had a career in law enforcement and routinely frequents national cable shows to talk about it.
Below are excerpts from the responding officers’ testimonies of the physical, psychological, and racial abuse they suffered that no candidate wants to acknowledge. Warning: the accounts are graphic.
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, 13 years of service
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 n****r voted for Joe Biden.” Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 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.
In the days following the attempted insurrection, other Black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6th. One officer told me he had never, in his entire 40 years of life been called a n****r to his face, and that streak ended on January 6th, yet another Black officer later told me he had been confronted by insurrectionists in the Capitol who told him, “Put your gun down and we’ll show you what kind of n****r you really are.” […]
I sat down on the bench in the Rotunda with a friend of mine who was also a Black Capitol Police officer, and told him about the racial slurs I endured. I became very emotional, and began yelling, “How the blank could something like this happen? Is this America?” I began sobbing. Officers came over to console me.
Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell, 15 years of service
Gonell also served eight years in the United States Army and spent 545 days in Iraq
When I was 25 years old and then a Sergeant in the Army, I had deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. From time to time, I volunteered to travel on IED infested roads to conduct supply missions for US and allied forces in local Iraqi population as well. But on January 6th for the first time, I was more afraid to work at the Capitol than my entire deployment to Iraq. […]
The rioters called me traitor, a disgrace and that I, an Army veteran and a police officer, should be executed. […] My fellow officers and I were punched, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants. […] The mob brought weapons to try to accomplish their insurrectionist objectives, and used them against us. These weapons included hammers, rebars, knives, baton and police shields taken by force, as well as bear spray and pepper spray. […]
I was particularly shocked at the scene, the insurrectionist violently attacked us with the very American flag that they claimed to serve to protect. […]
I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, this is how I’m going to die, defending this entrance. […]
Many of my fellow Capital officers, as well as MPD officers suffered several physical injuries from the violence inflicted on us on January 6th. I sustained injuries on both my hands, my left shoulder, my left calf and my right foot. I already have undergone bone fusion surgery on my right foot, and I was just told that I need surgery on my left shoulder. I’ve been on medical and administrative leave for much of the past six months, and I expect to need further rehabilitation for possibly more than a year.
There are some who express outrage when someone kneels while calling for social justice. Where are those same people expressing the outrage to condemn the violent attack on law enforcement at the Capitol in our American democracy? I’m still waiting for them.
Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, Civil Disturbance Unit and Riot Response
Hodges also served six years in the 116th infantry regiment third battalion as an indirect fire infantryman
One man tried and failed to build a rapport with me, shouting, “Are you my brother?” Another takes a different tac, shouting, “You will die on your knees.” […]
One of the terrorists who had scaled the scaffolding that adorned the Capitol at the time threw something heavy down at me and struck me in the head, disorienting me. I suspect this resulted in the likely concussion I dealt with in the weeks after. Another man attempted to disarm me of my baton, and again, we wrestled for control. […]
To my perpetual confusion, I saw the thin blue line flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement, more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us. […]
Later, I learned at least one of them was spraying us in the face with wasp spray. The terrorists alternated between attempting to break our defenses, and shouting at or attempting to convert us. Men alleging to be veterans told us how they had fought for this country and were fighting for it again. One man tried to start a chant of, “Four more years.” Another shouted, “Do not attack us. We’re not Black Lives Matter.” […]
A new man came to the front and fixated on me, continually berating me, telling me to take off my gear and give it to him, “to show solidarity with we the people, or we’re going to run over you.” […] 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. […]
On my left was a man with a clear riot shield stolen during the assault. He slammed it against me, and with all the weight of the bodies pushing behind him, trapped me…Directly in front of me, a man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask, and used it to beat my head against the door. He switched to pulling it off my head, the strap stretching against my skull and straining my neck. He never uttered any words I recognized, but opted instead for guttural screams. […]
The man in front of me grabbed my baton that I still held in my hands, and in my current state, I was unable to retain my weapon. He bashed me in the head and face with it, rupturing my lip, and adding additional injury to my skull. At this point, I knew I couldn’t sustain much more damage and remain upright. At best, I would collapse and be a liability to my colleagues. At worst, be dragged out into the crowd and lynched.
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone. 20 years of service
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, as I heard chants of, ” Kill him with his own gun.” I could still hear those words in my head today. […]
At some point during the fighting, I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd. I heard someone screaming, “I got one.” As I was swarmed by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge. They grabbed and stripped me of my radio. They seized ammunition that was secured to my body. They began to beat me with their fists and with what felt like hard metal objects. At one point, I came face-to-face with an attacker who repeatedly lunged for me and attempted to remove my firearm. I heard chanting from some in the crowd, “Get his gun and kill him with his own gun.” I was electrocuted again and again and again with a taser. […]
I had been beaten unconscious and remained so for more than four minutes. […]
At the hospital, doctors told me that I had suffered a heart attack, and I was later diagnosed with a concussion, a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. […]
What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know 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. 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 actually wasn’t that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.