Lawmakers award Congressional gold medals to officers for Jan. 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top leaders of the House and Senate on Tuesday will present Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement officials who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, nearly two years after they met the former president’s supporters Donald Trump fought to confer the highest honor of Congress in a brutal and bloody attack.

To recognize the hundreds of officers who were at the Capitol on January 6, the medals will be placed in four locations — US Capitol Police Headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution. President Joe Biden said when the law was signed last year that a medal would be displayed at the Smithsonian Museum “so that all visitors can understand what happened that day.”

The ceremony in the Capitol rotunda comes as Democrats, who are just weeks away from losing their majority in the House of Representatives, struggle to conclude a nearly 18-month investigation into the uprising. Democrats and two Republicans conducting the probe have vowed to uncover the details of the attack, which took place as Trump attempted to reverse his election defeat and encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell” at a rally just before Congressional admission.

The presentation of the medals is among the final ceremonial acts of House Speaker Nancy Pelosis as she prepares to step down from the leadership. When the bill passed the House of Representatives more than a year ago, she said law enforcement officials from around the city defended the Capitol because they were “the kind of Americans who heard the call to serve and heeded it and the country above them.” themselves”.

“They made it possible for us to return to the Capitol,” she said at the time, “on that podium that night to show the world that our democracy triumphed and that it succeeded because of you,” confirming Biden’s presidency.”

Dozens of officers who fought off the rioters sustained serious injuries. As the mob of Trump supporters pushed past them into the Capitol, police were beaten with American flags and their own guns, dragged down the stairs, sprayed with chemicals, and trampled and crushed by the crowd. Officers suffered physical injuries, including brain injuries and other lifelong consequences, and many afterwards struggled to work because they were so traumatized.

Four officials who testified at a House hearing last year spoke candidly about the lingering mental and physical scars and some detailed near-death experiences.

The Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor that Congress can bestow, has been awarded by the Legislature since 1776.

Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges described foaming at the mouth, bleeding and screams as the rioters tried to gouge out his eye and crush him between two heavy doors. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who rushed to the scene, said he was “grabbed, beaten and reprimanded while being branded a traitor to my country”. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said a large group of people shouted the N-word at him as he tried to stop them from entering the chamber of the house.

At least nine people who were in the Capitol that day died during and after the riots, including a woman who was shot by police while attempting to enter the House of Representatives chamber and three other Trump supporters who received medical suffered emergencies. Two police officers died by suicide in the days immediately afterwards, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died after one of the rioters sprayed him with a chemical. A coroner determined that he died of natural causes.

A few months after the attack, in August 2021, the Metropolitan Police announced that two more of their officers who had responded to the riot had died by suicide. The circumstances leading to her death were unknown.

The house vote in June 2021 to award the medals received broad support from both parties. But 21 House Republicans voted against it — lawmakers who had downplayed the violence and remained loyal to Trump. The Senate passed the bill by ballot, with no Republican objections.

Pelosi, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Republican Senate Speaker Mitch McConnell will attend the ceremony and present the medals. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger and City Police Chief Robert Contee are also expected.

The Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor that Congress can bestow, has been awarded by the Legislature since 1776. Previous recipients have included George Washington, Sir Winston Churchill, Bob Hope and Robert Frost. In recent years, Congress has presented the medals to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who became a leading advocate for people struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and biker Greg LeMond.

Biden signed the law into law in the White House last year and said the officers’ heroism cannot be forgotten.

The uprising was a “violent attempt to overthrow the will of the American people” and Americans needed to understand what happened, he said. “The honest and unvarnished truth. We have to face that.”

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