Do Not Downplay The Trauma Suffered At The Hands Of The Capitol Rioters (I Mean, Terrorists)

by Holly Garcia

There are moments you will never forget, even when you really wish you could. Like September 11th, 2001. I was in 6th grade, and even though at the moment I didn’t understand the implications, it changed our lives forever. The same is absolutely true for the events of January 6th, 2021. What’s worse, there are far too many people who still refuse to tell the truth about that day.

Y’all know where this is going. If you can’t accept the truth of what occurred, stop reading here. I don’t have a pun or a clever spin to put on this. Repeatedly during their testimony (Sergeant Gonell, Officer Fanone, Officer Hodges, and Officer Dunn), the men who defended our democracy asked one simple question: Why is it so hard to tell the truth?

Honestly though, how the fuck have seven months have gone by, and we still do not have an answer for these men or for the country that sat by in shock and horror as we watched home-grown terrorists attack. Yes, I said it. Not protestors, not rioters, not insurrections — terrorists, full stop. I want to ask everyone who still doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of this situation why is it so hard for y’all to accept the truth?

These Are The Facts

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Like everyone else around the world, I was frozen to my screen, watching in horror and disbelief as events unfolded that I’d only ever read about in the history books. This doesn’t happen here. This only happens under dictators. But it happened, and the consequences of this are felt until this very day.

We’re not just talking about the physical injuries and multiple surgeries, I’m talking about lifelong invisible scars that will never heal. These scars and trauma will haunt them for the rest of their life.

Did you know Sergeant Gonell served in Iraq? During his testimony, he compared that day to his days in the war. “I volunteered to travel on IED infested roads… But on January 6th… I was more afraid to work at the Capitol than my entire deployment to Iraq.”

Officer Fanone, who wasn’t even supposed to be there that day, recounted his experience. “As I was swarmed by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge. They grabbed and stripped me of my radio. I heard chanting in the crowd, get his gun and kill him with his own gun.”

What in the actual fuck?! Fearing for his life, Fanone recalled trying to invoke humanity in his attackers yelling that he had kids. Can you even imagine? Despite all this, he continued to be assaulted, resulting in a heart attack, concussion, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD, among other ailments.

The next two testimonies were not any easier to digest. Anyone who watched what happened that day or saw one of the million times footage was replayed will be familiar with what happened to Officer Hodges.

Hodges was the officer whose body was pinned between a steel door frame and the mob, who while attacking the capitol yelled “heave-ho”, coordinating their effort to literally trample him. There was so much coverage of that footage I can close my eyes and still hear his feral cries for relief in the dead silence of the night.

The trauma sustained by Officer Dunn, the 4th officer to testify during opening day, is two-fold. Not only was he attacked and assaulted by these terrorists for simply doing his job — they took it a step further and attacked him because of the color of his skin.

Of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, the person they said told them to come that day has been spewing vile, hateful, dangerous rhetoric for years.

It’s Time To Accept The Truth, No Matter How Uncomfortable It Makes You

Naturally, they felt seen, heard, and justified in their treasonous actions. This is the biggest issue still facing us seven months later. There are plenty of politicians who refused to tell the truth, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it.

Officer Fanone said it best, “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 but too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist or that hell actually wasn’t that bad.”

How dare anyone tell these brave people the trauma they lived through, and now live with, wasn’t that bad. Heart attacks, multiple surgeries, and physical ailments aside, the trauma these people have lived through is incomparable.

Just last week, it was reported that a 3rd person who defended the Capitol that day died by suicide. And yet, people have the audacity to say it wasn’t really that bad. Some (aka one of the biggest leaders of the idiocy tribe) allege the events of that day were somehow a plot by the FBI. Are you fucking serious?!

I seethe and rage just skimming through the theories and baseless allegations, but you know what? I’m not going to fall down their rabbit hole. I won’t spend one more word on them, when what needs to be discussed is how the hell we move forward as a country.

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Tell The Truth And Accept The Truth–It’s That Simple

How do we wrap our minds around these stories? Can a reckoning on any scale ever bring peace or serve justice for the treason committed that day? For starters, we can all do what Officer Fanone called on Congress to do: tell the truth. There is nothing hard about telling the damn truth. Does it make you feel some kind of way to admit that you enabled this behavior and ideologies? Well, it should. But the good news is if it makes you uncomfortable there is still hope.

Be sure your representatives know you condemn this behavior. It is literally their job to make your voices heard. Make a statement to the country and to the world. When terrorists (home-grown or from lands away) attack our country, there are repercussions. You cannot attempt to beat other people into submission just because an orange man-child doesn’t like the way things played out.

Literally these people are so delusional. Honest to goodness I can’t make this shit up. Officer Fanone has publicly shared voicemail messages that he’s received from Trump supporters threatening his safety again.

I refuse to take up space quoting these people directly. But what I will say is, Congress damn well better not be put these trauma survivors through this again, publicly, and not do anything about it. Don’t let America become a place where treason of this magnitude can occur and go unpunished. Acknowledge the truth of what occurred, hold people accountable for their actions, and try to move forward as best we can.