It has barely been four months since a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol and tried to overturn the election results, but a “disgraceful” feeling of political “indifference” to what happened that day has set in, according to an emotional letter a Washington DC police officer sent members of Congress on Wednesday.
“As the physical injuries gradually subsided in crept the psychological trauma,” wrote officer Michael Fanone, who has served with the Metro police for nearly two decades. “I struggle daily with the emotional anxiety of having survived such a traumatic event but I also struggle with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day and those who would ignore them altogether with their lack of acknowledgement.”
During the 6 January riots, five people were killed and more than 100 officers were injured, the culmination of weeks of baseless conspiracy theories about a stolen election spread by Mr Trump and adopted by his Republican allies in Congress.
Mr Fanone described the horror of what he saw defending one of the Capitol’s west entrances.
“I was pulled out into the crowd, away from my fellow officers, beaten with fists, metal objects, stripped of my issued badge, radio and ammunition magazine and electrocuted numerous times with a Taser,” he said.
“The fighting here was nothing short of brutal,” he added. “Many of these officers were injured, bleeding and fatigued but they continued to fight.”
Leaders in the Capitol have honoured officers like Eugene Goodman with congressional medals, and held a memorial in the Capitol Rotunda for Brian Sicknick, an officer who was killed during the attack.
But those most responsible for causing what happened haven’t faced many meaningful consequences, while others hold fast to their challenge of the election results even though it’s long been clear, from numerous failed lawsuits and successful recounts and vote audits, that Joe Biden was the outright winner of the presidential contest.
Following the riot, Mr Trump became the first president to be impeached twice, but he escaped conviction in the Senate with numerous Republican votes for acquittal.
Senators like Josh Hawley, one of the key leaders in challenging the election results in Congress, have stuck by their stance in recent days. On a recent Washington Post podcast, he defended an infamous photo of him offering a celebratory fist pump to a crowd of Trump supporters outside the Capitol moments before the riots began.
“I waved to them, gave them the thumbs up, pumped my fist to them and thanked them for being there, and they had every right to do that,” the Missouri Republican said on Monday on the Washington Post Live broadcast.
The senator was among those Republicans who voted to challenge the election results once Congress was back in session on the night of 6 January, citing concerns about “election integrity.”
Meanwhile, in many of the states where Republicans accused the election system of being unfair, the same legislators are pushing through a host of bills that would likely depress voter turnout under the rationale of tackling voter fraud, a largely non-existent phenomenon.
At the federal level, a sweeping voting rights bill that would do things like end felon disenfranchisement and require independently drawn congressional districts faces stiff opposition in the Senate.
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