'It's inconceivable that they don't even want to find out how to prevent this in the future,' Officer Aquilino Gonell said.
Two U.S. Capitol Police officers spoke out Thursday night about the horrors they faced on Jan. 6 and their anger that Republican lawmakers have downplayed the violence and refused to create a commission to try to prevent similar attacks in the future.
Officers Aquilino Gonell and Byron Evans spoke to CNN about their battle with the Donald Trump-supporting mob during the insurrection, and the injuries that are still plaguing them five months later.
Gonell, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who served in Iraq as part of the Army Reserve before joining the Capitol Police force in 2008, told CNN the insurrectionists beat him with American flag poles and hurled racist insults at him as he tried to defend the building and the members of Congress within it. He injured his foot the day of the attack, and eventually underwent bone fusion surgery to fix the pain he continued to experience.
"When we were in the Lower West Terrace and throughout the whole ordeal I had people calling me immigrant, you're not American, you are a traitor," Gonell told CNN. "I went overseas to protect our homeland from foreign threats, but yet here I am battling them in our own Capitol."
Gonell added, "Then I started getting beat up with a flagpole, with a flag, the American flag that I swore to defend here and overseas. And I don't know how I got this strength, but I hit that person so hard that they let me go. I started backpedaling."
Evans said he is still sickened by images of the rioters' behavior.
"You just feel a personal connection to something that you protect every single day, and then to see them, on the floor, just doing whatever they wanted to do, doing things that no one is allowed to do, so, so cavalier — it definitely made you angry," Evans told CNN. "To see them up there, like it was some funhouse, that will always stick in my mind."
Both Evans and Gonell said they cannot understand why Republicans do not want to launch an independent commission to probe the events of that day and come up with solutions to prevent similar attacks in the future. Other Capitol Police officers have also slammed GOP leaders for refusing to launch a bipartisan commission to examine the events on Jan. 6.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opposed the creation of the bipartisan commission, with McConnell wrangling GOP senators to block the creation of the commission.
"I got hurt protecting them. And I would do it again if I have to. It's my job," Gonell told CNN. "It's inconceivable that they don't even want to find out how to prevent this in the future."
Other GOP lawmakers have downplayed the attack, with one Republican lawmaker comparing the violent insurrectionists to everyday tourists.
"For them to whitewash this like I'm making it up like somebody told me that this was Black Lives Matter or antifa, there was not antifa there," Gonell told CNN — referring to the Republican lawmakers' attempts to say the insurrectionists weren't Trump supporters when they were. "All the people, the sea of people that were there, they were saying President Trump sent me here, he's our president, he sent us here, and we won't listen to anything you said that day."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.