‘So much for backing the blue’: Impeachment trial hears rioters’ abuse and violence against police at Capitol

Senators watch footage of violence and abuse against police during third day of Trump's trial

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 11 February 2021 20:09 GMT
Related: Videos of Trump encouraging violence played at impeachment trial
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Democratic House impeachment managers shared footage of rioters hurling abuse and threatening police officers protecting the Capitol and lawmakers, during the 6 January insurrection.

"So much for backing the blue," impeachment manager David Cicilline told Senators during former president Donald Trump's impeachment trial for inciting a deadly assault in the halls of Congress.

Police officers heard chants of "traitor" and faced mobs chanting “fight for Trump” inside the Capitol building, captured in widely shared footage aired inside the Senate chamber on Wednesday during the third day of the trial. Other officers reported rioters calling them the n-word.

"You have to wonder – who are these rioters sworn to?" Congressman Cicilline said, asking whether they believed police were loyal "to the people, the Constitution, democracy, or Donald Trump".

Read more: Follow live updates from Trump's impeachment trial

His "backing the blue" comment echoes allegations of hypocrisy against Republican lawmakers and others who have supported "blue lives matter" and other pro-police sentiments but failed to condemn the violence among their own supporters against officers at the riot.

One police officer died following injuries sustained at the Capitol. Two other officers who were at the riot later died by suicide.

"All of us in this room made it out alive, but not everyone was so lucky," Mr Cicilline said. "Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood and Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith all honourably served to protect and defend"

Mr Cicilline said the mental health toll has been significant – one officer had voluntarily turned in their service weapon over fears of "what would happen".

The union chairman representing US Capitol Police has said that nearly 140 officers from Capitol Police and Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department were injured during the assault.

In a statement last month, union chairman Gus Papathanasiou said: “I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake.”

Impeachment managers detailed the attacks and cries for help among officers during a comprehensive video timeline – including previously unseen surveillance footage and audio from police radio – during arguments on Wednesday.

Acting Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman told members of Congress last month that the 1,200 law enforcement personnel on duty on 6 January were “no match for the tens of thousands of insurrectionists” in the nation’s capital.

At least 38 officers tested positive or were exposed to the coronavirus after the attack. At least 200 National Guard troops also tested positive.

Mr Cicilline also recounted the chilling experience of Black and brown workers at the Capitol, whose trauma "was made worse by the painful symbols of hate that were on full display that day”, he said, describing rioters waving Confederate flags and hurling racist abuse.

“After all of that, these same workers, many of them people of colour, were forced to clean up the mess left by mobs of white nationalists,” he said.

A member of the Capitol's janitorial staff reported cleaning faeces smeared on a wall and blood that spilled from a rioter who died.

"I felt bad," the worker said. "I felt degraded."

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