• Donald V. Watkins

They Were Prepared to Die for America

Updated: Aug 11

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on August 1, 2021


On January 6, 2021, they were prepared to die defending America's National Capitol, as well as the lawmakers inside. They are: Capitol Police Officer Aquillino Gonell, Metropolitan Police Department Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, and Capitol Police Pfc Harry Dunn.


These brave men, along with hundreds of their fellow police officers, fought off armed Trump "patriots" and violent white supremacists who were intent on stopping Congress from certifying Joe Biden as President of the United States, and California Senator Kamala Harris as Vice President. Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election by seven million votes. Despite unfounded claims by Trump that he lost the election due to massive voter fraud, none of the 60 state or federal courts that examined this false claim in post-election lawsuits, none of the 50 state election boards and commissions, none of the 51 or more state or federal government law enforcement agencies, none of the 51 or more state or federal cybersecurity agencies, and none of the country's 16 national intelligence agencies found any such fraud.


This truism did not matter to Trump's patriots. They wanted to: (a) damage the Capitol, (b) stop the certification of the election's outcome and (c) hang Mike Pence, Trump's hand-picked vice president. Pence, a right-wing conservative from Indiana, refused to commit treason by blocking the certification process, as Trump had demanded. They were organized, trained, and armed for an insurrection.


The battle for the Capitol lasted for more than 3 hours. Sgt. Gonell, Pfc Dunn, and MPD officers Fanone and Hodges nearly died in the line of duty during the battle.


The lawmakers inside the Capitol were terrified as Trump's "patriots" broke through the ranks of the "thin blue line" of police defenders. None of the lawmakers rushed to join the ranks of the brave police officers who were defending the Capitol in hand-to-hand combat against "patriots" who were intent on destroying it and harming the public officials inside of it. Instead, the lawmakers and their staffs ran for safety as the battle raged.


Investigating the Insurrection


Last Tuesday, a bipartisan committee in the House of Representatives started hearings to find out what happened on January 6th and why. I call this committee "bipartisan" because Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) serves on the panel. Ms. Cheney is the only Republican member of Congress who demonstrated decency, political integrity, courage, and a commitment to the rule of law by serving on the committee. The rest of the Republican House members were afraid to participate as committee members because they did not want to incur the political wrath of Donald Trump. In short, they are political cowards.


New video footage from police body cams worn on January 6th show just how violent and profane Trump's "patriots" were that day. They beat, stomped, tased, and attempted to kill some of the police officers who fought to prevent them from entering the Capitol. They also called uniformed black officers like Dunn "niggers." They destroyed property around and inside the Capitol as they paraded through the Senate and House Chambers carrying their Trump and Confederate flags and other racist paraphernalia.


Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee would have been proud of Trump's "patriots" on January 6th. They achieved something that Lee's Confederate army could never do -- they breached the National Capitol and nearly overthrew the duly elected government of Joe Biden before it was sworn-in.


Fortunately, this Trump-inspired coup d'etat failed, but not before it inflicted physical and psychological damage upon scores of police officers who were prepared to die to defend our Capitol and the rule of law. Sadly, five people did die inside the Capitol during the insurrection and melee that day, including a Capitol police officer.


Republican lawmakers who were saved from harm on January 6th have elevated Trump's "patriots" to "hero" status and are now defending them. The Capitol police are their new enemies.


What is more, some of these Republican lawmakers had the nerve to tell the American public that what they saw in the police body cam videos was not real. They have even attempted to "whitewash" this tragic event by claiming that Trump's "patriots" were simply enjoying a normal tourist visit of the Capitol.


Angry White Mobs Waving Confederate Flags Are Dangerous


History has shown us that angry white mobs waving Confederate flags are dangerous. They tend to act in the violent, irrational, and destructive manner we saw on January 6th when matters of race are involved. We have seen this pattern of violent behavior before on many occasions.


For example, we saw this kind of irrational and destructive violence in 1957 on the campus of The University of Alabama when Autherine Lucy attempted to desegregate the university under court order. White supremacists in Tuscaloosa exploded with raging violence and destroyed university buildings and property. We saw it again in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1958 when the "Little Rock Nine" integrated Central High School. An angry white mob overran police officers to attack them. Four years later, we saw it on the campuses of The University of Alabama and the University of Mississippi when Vivian Malone, James Hood, and James Meredith desegregated these universities in 1963 under federal court orders. The white rioters broke through the ranks of law enforcement officers to attack the U.S. Marshals who were escorting these three black students to their respective campuses. And, we saw it again in Montgomery, Alabama and Birmingham, Alabama during the summers of the "Freedom Rides" in the early 1960s when white mobs brutally beat black "freedom riders" and their white sympathizers as they sought to desegregate buses and trains that traveled through the South.


In 2021, it is now the race of brown, Spanish-speaking men, women, and children from Central and South America who seek entry into America that is fueling the violence we saw on January 6th. Trump won the 2016 presidential election on one issue -- he pledged to do whatever it took to stop or slow the "Browning of America."


For the next four years, President Trump used race-baiting language, bullying, and Nazi-era immigration policies and practices against migrants of color at America's southern border to deliver on this promise. By doing so, Trump became a hero to many of his 72 million white voters who never want to live in an America where whites are the "minority" population. If this demographic shift occurs in the future, as predicted by population experts, Trump's voters want "white minority rule" firmly rooted in our state and federal governments.


Epilogue


What Trump's "patriots" did at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 was disgraceful and indefensible. Their violent insurrection was laced with racial underpinnings. Their Confederate commander on January 6th was Donald J. Trump, a defeated presidential candidate who rallied his "patriots" to "take back their country," as he watched on TV from the safety and security of the White House's Oval Office.


Nothing else can credibly explain: (a) the shocking violence Americans saw against Capitol police officers on January 6th, (b) the widespread destruction of government property inside the Capitol, (c) "patriots" shouting the word "nigger" at the black police officers who defended the Capitol, (d) the wave of anti-black voter suppression laws sweeping the nation in 2021 in Republican-controlled state legislatures, and (e) the wholesale failure of Republicans in Washington and around the country to openly and proudly support the Capitol police officers who saved their lives on January 6th.


Today's Republican Party has evolved into a modern-day version of the old South's White Citizens Council. Instead of condemning insurrection and white racism, it has become the standard-bearer of both.


In America, white racism "Trumps" all.



PHOTO: Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, officer Michael Fanone, officer Daniel Hodges and officer Harry Dunn being sworn in.

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