After First Presentation of January 6 Committee
From a Google Image Search - The Hill
Most of this evidence from January 6 has been available from the original news videos and clips or from leaks to the press and from reporters on MSNBC who picked up on leaks and fleshed out the leaks to offer more details. I have seen it before, you also have seen the coverage of the “attack” on the US Capitol.
This time, on Tuesday, June 9 at 8pm, there was footage that was not in the public domain before. This time there was a much bigger TV in my living room. It was compelling from start to finish. Bennie Thompson gave a short bio which included the terrors he had occasionally experienced living in Mississippi, land of the KKK and lynching, once a slave state. Perhaps Mr. Thompson did this as a reaction to the noose insurrectionists hung from the scaffolding that was being constructed for the inauguration of Joe Biden. A law was in the works (now passed) outlawing lynching. Nooses have appeared in recent years on college campuses and other public places as symbolic of racist threats and hate speech. The noose was there to hang Mike Pence this time, a man who could not be much whiter, the Vice President of the United States. It was there because the VP would not do the bidding of Trump, the president of the US to overturn a free and fair election. It sprang from the twisted imagination of a white supremacist who happened to never have been a southerner, just a fascist.
Liz Cheney narrated the next part of the committee presentation which was well documented with video clips and tweets and testimony from witnesses. She exhibited none of the usual derisive behavior of the usual suspects from the Republican Party. She spoke calmly and her materials were carefully laid out. She wanted to show that these events were not a typical tour of the Capitol, or a peaceful demonstration, and that these events were not spontaneous. The President invited the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers to rally on January 6 and he signaled in a tweet that “It will be wild.” So, these homegrown militia groups responded to the call of their leader, the man who told the Proud Boys to “stand down and stand by,” the President of the United States of America who they believed loved them. They laid their plans and they met at the Ellipse.
The 1960’s were also turbulent times. Things occasionally got out of hand at protests. Four students dead in Ohio, at Kent State University at the hands of the police, a demonstration at the Democratic National Convention that turned violent. Riots in cities. The Black Panthers who frightened lawmakers out of all proportion to their acts. So, I try to put myself in this group of insurrectionists, to imagine what propelled them up those stairs at the Capitol, what drove them to break in through doors and windows and prowl the crypt of the Senate howling for Nancy Pelosi to come out. Their dedication and passion, however misguided, was real and it was a fever in these attackers, these Americans leading a violent attack on the seat of their own government to keep someone in power who showed no talent for governing but a great talent for collecting souls to do his dark deeds. What I think is thank goodness they left their guns and bombs and body armor in their cars and trucks. It was terrible enough to see flags being used as weapons against an overwhelmed force of Capitol police. If the insurrectionists had had guns the death toll would have been much higher, the crimes of the perpetrators much greater. If they knew how skimpy the force was that defended the Capitol that day they might have come armed.
From a Google Image Search - Rolling Stone
There was the testimony of Caroline Edwards, Capitol Police Officer, “I can just remember my breath catching in my throat, because what I saw was just a war scene…There were officers on the ground, they were bleeding, they were throwing up…I was slipping in people’s blood…Never in my wildest dreams, did I think that as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle…It was carnage and chaos.” She was pushed to the ground and hit her head on a step, she was unconscious for a while. She recovered and returned to duty and was hit with tear gas. Capitol police are usually the security people who smile at tourists, who make sure that they stay with the tour, who have ceremonial duties at times. They are not trained to fight; they do not expect to have to fight. They did not have riot gear or guns. When they head into work, they never have to prepare themselves to be faced with a mob rabid to enter the Capitol to commit mayhem. What will the Capitol police of the future be like?
Liz Cheney introduced us to Nick Quested, artist, filmmaker, journalist, documentarian, Englishman. Nick Quested was imbedded with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. He was with them capturing video of when the two leaders met in a parking garage on January 5 to make their final plans. He was with them the next day to attend and document Trump’s rally on the Ellipse. But what he ended up documenting was something quite different. The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers did not go to the rally. By 10:30 am they were already moving in ranks towards the Capitol to scout out the site of the upcoming battle. When they were joined by the others coming from the rally they were already in the vanguard, climbing the stairs outside the building, east and west entrances both covered, and they were ramming the bulletproof windows and the windows in the doors with whatever they could find, often their own boots and shoulders. There was nothing peaceful about these acts of breaking and entering. They were propelled by rage and the belief that they were saving American democracy when what they were doing was quite the opposite, although they may have been so deluded that they did not know that.
These two witnesses provided testimony that easily filled an hour and a half, sweeping us into the action, first with the overwhelmed Capitol police and then with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers streaming into the Capitol grounds like Crusaders finally at their destination, ready to fight the Saracens.
From a Google Image Search - Nick Quested photo from WEYI
I was shocked on January 6 before I ever realized that this was not a spontaneous attack on the seat of our government; before I ever knew that sedition was afoot. I was worried about January 6 because it seemed like the last chance for Trump to do anything to change the outcome of the 2020 election and he had already shown his wrath at losing, his surprise that he could lose, and his willingness to use strategies that were questionable, if not criminal to keep on as the President.
I already know some of what is to come in future presentations of the January 6 committee, and I suspect it will be even more shocking that what has already been told, although I’m not sure how that is possible. I was frightened for America that day. Even holding some of the insurrectionists accountable does not totally ease my worries. I worry that Trump will be allowed to run in the 2024 election and that will destroy my confidence in the United States government and the US Constitution because it will suggest that these events were not an insurrection or sedition. That could weaken our republic beyond all repair and for who knows how long. Perhaps America will become a mythical place like Atlantis or Wakanda.
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