President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attend the 40th annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service Saturday, October 16, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Photo credit: Official White House Photo by Erin Scott

Biden to honor law enforcement one year after Jan. 6 coup attempt. Investigations, arrests of insurrectionists continue

6 mins read

One year later, gaping fissures in the political landscape and domestic safety hang in the balance, but those who defended democracy are lauded. That is not enough.

On the morning of January 6, 2021, an unruly mob stormed into the Capitol building in an attempted coup of the U.S. government after a call to action by the 45th U.S. president. The infuriated Trump supporters, ranging from voice actors to veterans, contested then president-elect Joe Biden’s win of the 2020 presidential race. Mutineers claimed the run-off was rigged by Democrats, citing issues of disqualification that spanned from election technology tampering to manipulating mail-in ballots.

From the surge of dissenters, “Vice President [Michael] Pence was threatened with death by the president’s supporters because he rejected President Trump’s demand [to overturn the election],” asserted the U.S. Virgin Islands Rep.  Stacey Plaskett (D-NY) in an address to the Senate regarding new footage showing the breach in real time.

In the rampage, sects defecated and urinated indiscriminately throughout the building, more ravaged different offices yielding weapons of pepper spray and clubs made from American flags. U.S. Capital Officer Officer Eugene Goodman, one of the law enforcement officers already overwhelmed because a significant number of his colleagues called out sick that day, acted fast to thwart the coming mob of violent insurgents.

Rep. Plaskett, who served as impeachment manager in the Trump hearings recounted, “As the rioters reached the top of the stairs, they were within 100 feet of where the vice president was sheltering with his family…[t]hey were just feet away from one of the doors to this chamber, where many of you remained at that time.” 

To dissuade a gang of domestic terrorists away from the Senate floor, Officer Goodman sprinted away from the area. Instead of running for cover, he actively baited them toward other agents. Ultimately, the act of heroism bought time for legislators like former Vice President Pence, to escape possible murder. 

“[He] was exhausted going from one part of the building to the other, up and down stairs. He indicated that he had to breathe a lot of bear spray and tear gas, and that he was nauseated . . . …I just again told him how much I appreciated him, making sure that I was out of harm’s way,” recalled Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) of Officer Goodman and how fortunate he was in the ordeal. Sen. Romney maintains he was lucky to have him as law enforcement ensuring the safety of congressional officials.

Moreover, the Black D.C native led Trump-opponent Sen. Romney to a side corridor as he ran to tackle agitators in other portions of the building. Unknowing of the danger, the  tenured GOP legislator was leaving Congressional chambers and heading back to his personal office. 

Also mentioned in the hearings was the insurrectionists’ goal to murder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as a now viral photo shows a man with his feet on her desk, brandishing a 950,000-volt stun gun walking stick. Fortunately, the minutes Officer Goodman spared allowed Congressional officials to move to safety. Of other significance, the electoral college ballots deciding the next presidency remained secured.

U.S. Capitol police officers embrace following President Joe Biden signing H.R. 3325, a bill awarding four Congressional Gold Medals to the U.S. Capitol Police and those who protected the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Thursday, August 5, 2021, in the Rose Garden of the White House. Photo credit: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

To serve and protect

Officer Goodman, a former U.S. Army sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division in the Iraq War from 2002 to 2006, has been a capital police officer since 2009. Although Goodman would do it again, he is not looking for accolades. Yet, his heroic actions garnered bipartisan support. Subsequently, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) and others in the Senate unanimously approved the Officer Eugene Goodman Congressional Gold Medal Act, which awarded the hero a Congressional Gold Medal. To add, the same honor was extended to the D.C. and Capitol police.  

“If not for the quick, decisive, and heroic actions from Officer Goodman, the tragedy of [the January 6] insurrection could have multiplied in magnitude to levels never before seen in American history. With this prestigious award, we can show our gratitude to Officer Goodman for saving countless lives and defending our democracy,” voiced co-author of the act, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO).

Later that month, he was greeted to applause as an escort for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during the Inauguration. In addition, Goodman threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals against New York Mets baseball matchup this past June. He also served as the former Deputy Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate from January to March 2021. 

One year later, some reiterate his and others importance in protecting the lives of several at the Capitol. Arguably, it is their contributions that averted the riots from being worse than they already were.

In a January 4 conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president will speak to the truth of what he then-called the “unprecedented assault on democracy” during its one year anniversary on Thursday; namely, election and riot misinformation. As well, President Biden plans to mark the historical significance of the violent occasion, along with commemorate the heroes of the day including Goodman and his colleagues.

At best, the January 6 siege was the first time since the Civil War that a group of predominantly, but not exclusively, angry white men, dared to burn down a government they felt did not fairly represent their interests. At worst, it is a smear to the reputation of the U.S. on a global and domestic stage. More damning, it is a glaring systemic crack in the gross authoritative hold white supremacy has on a supposed democratic republic. 

In response to January 6, the Department of Justice launched what is now one of the largest criminal investigations in American history. So expansive are the inquiries—litigants and evidence span all 50 states. 

Six months post-coup, the U.S. Attorney’s office asserted their interest in holding those accountable for the attack “has not, and will not, wane.” They say over 535 defendant arrests have been made, with charges ranging from assault and use of a deadly to dangerous weapon, and even obstruction. 

Approximately 140 police officers were assaulted, including about 80 U.S. Capitol Police and 60 from the Metropolitan Police Department. Ultimately, there were five casualties as a result of the attack—four protesters and one officer.  

To date, approximately 700 people were charged with 150 having pleaded guilty to their part in storming the Capitol. Some say retribution via sentencing should be given to such treason, while others rely on governmental guidance–which notoriously lacks prison time.  

“There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government beyond sitting at home,” said Judge Tanya Chutkan as she handed down a 45-day prison sentence versus the government-recommended three month home confinement of a rioter.  

According to the Architect of the Capitol, the attack caused an estimated $1.5 million worth of damage. Currently, the FBI is still seeking 350 individuals believed to have committed violent acts, over 250 of whom assaulted police officers. The bureau is even offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Thus far, the House of Representatives has formed the bipartisan Jan 6. House select committee. The group has issued a minimum 50 subpoenas to people of interest, counting previous top officials like former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, among others.  According to NPR, some dissenters had law enforcement and military ties to funding and leadership, alarming those in government. They also purport, “At least 119 defendants have alleged ties to known extremist or fringe organizations, such as the pro-Trump QAnon, conspiracy theorists; the Proud Boys, a far-right group known for street violence; the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group; and the Three Percenters, a part of the anti-government militia movement.”

. . . .

The 2020 Biden versus Trump presidential battle saw the largest total voter turnout in U.S. history– nearly 160 million. Additionally, it was the first time more than 140 million Americans placed a ballot. The first U.S. presidential candidate to do so, Biden, amassed the popular vote with 51.3 percent, or over 81 million votes. In second place, Trump snagged over 74 million votes, or 46.8 percent. Though Biden was victorious in both the popular and the electoral college vote, still a significant number of voters wanted to re-elect Trump.

If the measure of white supremacy is based on the aforementioned results, the ethnocentric  mainstream may be at risk. In lieu of rising shortages and a decreasing birth rate, outpouring of sociopolitical tensions may result in continued mass-spread, thus future intolerance. Ergo, possible violence. 

As history has shown, poor and desperate white people are more than murderous or treacherous– they are self-proclaimed revolutionaries. 

Yolanda Aguilera focuses on culture, policy, domestic, international relations, and the African and Latin Diasporas.

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