Officer questions selective support for law enforcement among Republicans
One of the four Capitol Police officers to testify in front of the House select committee to investigate the attack on the US Capitol questioned whether some Republicans were truly committed to supporting law enforcement, based on their remarks about the riot.
During his prepared remarks to the committee, Sgt Aquilino Gonell asked why some Republicans were so eager to condemn athletes for taking a knee to protest for racial justice issues such as police brutality while being unable to speak truthfully about the violence Capitol Police officers faced on 6 January.
“There are some who express outrage when someone kneels while calling for social justice,” said Sgt Gonell. “Where are those same people expressing the outrage to condemn the violent attack on law enforcement, the Capitol, in our American democracy? I’m still waiting for them.”
His comments were a clear reference to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other athletes across numerous leagues who have taken a knee during performances of the national anthem in support of racial justice causes.
During his remarks and subsequent answers to lawmakers’ questions, Sgt Gonell laid the blame for the riot and violence against law enforcement squarely on the shoulders of former President Donald Trump, who at a rally outside the White House that day urged his supporters to march down Pennsylvania Ave to the Capitol as lawmakers counted the Electoral College ballots officially making Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election.
“It was an attempted coup,” Sgt Gonell said. “If it was another country, the US would have sent help.”
Adding of Mr Trump’s false claim in March that the rioters posed “zero threat” to law enforcement and were in many cases showering them with “hugs and kisses”, Sgt Gonell added: “It’s a pathetic excuse for his behaviour, for something that he himself helped to create, this monstrosity.”
“I’m still recovering from those ‘hugs and kisses’ that day that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us that day. If that was hugs and kisses, we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him”, Sgt Gonell explained.
The heated remarks came as part of an explosive first day of the Democrat-led House select commission’s multi-day hearings on the 6 January attack, and echoed comments made by three other Capitol Police officers to the panel.
Republican leadership declined to participate in the commission, leaving only Reps Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger representing the GOP on the commission.
GOP lawmakers have complained that the panel is a partisan effort to smear their party over which Speaker Nancy Pelosi is exercising complete control.
This comes despite their own concurrent claim that the events of the riot need to be investigated as well as their efforts to defeat legislation that would have established a select commission earlier this year that would have given the GOP leadership total control over their membership on the committee.