The U.S. Capitol riot that occurred one year ago on Jan. 6 has District leaders and residents remembering that day with hopes that it will never happen again.
“There were a lot of lessons learned that day,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said on MSNBC on Jan. 2. “We learned how vulnerable our country is during a transition of power from one presidential administration to another. Our Metropolitan Police Department [MPD] did much to save our democracy on that day. It is my hope that our police officers never have to be put in that position again.”
A mob of President Trump supporters ransacked the U.S. Capitol in hopes of preventing the certification of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president. During the melee, five people died during or after the event. Many people, including 138 police officers, suffered injuries. Four officers, who tried to protect the Capitol and the lawmakers and staffers, committed suicide as a result of the event.
Now, a year later, the House of Representatives has formed a Select Committee on the January 6 Attack to investigate the incident.
Ballou Graduate Among Those Injured in Riot
Michael Fanone, a graduate of Ballou High School in Ward 8, defended the Capitol against the rioters as a member of the MPD. He worked for the U.S. Capitol Police as an officer before joining MPD.
Fanone sustained injuries during the attack and suffered a heart attack as a result. During his testimony to the Select Committee, he talked about his experiences and openly requested U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and other party members to denounce the incident. Fanone resigned from MPD, with his last day of duty on Dec. 31.
Today, he works as a contributor for CNN on topics dealing with law enforcement.
Residents Recount the Event
D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who represents the U.S. Capitol area, vividly remembers Jan. 6.
“Around 1 p.m. that day, I got a lot of texts and my office received phone calls about a whole bunch of people around the Capitol,” he said. “I became concerned not only because the Capitol is in my ward but a number of my constituents work for Congress.”
Allen said he talked to one constituent who wanted to go to the Capitol to watch the riot unfold.
“I told him do not go there,” he said. “I said it was too dangerous. I told him to stay home.”
Andy Litsky, an advisory neighborhood commissioner who represents single-member district 6D04 in Ward 6, lives near the Capitol. He said he will never forget that day.
“I was at home watching the electoral vote on television,” he said. “I heard the rioters walking from the Ellipse to the Capitol. I could hear the crowd shouting and screaming.”
Litsky said he watched the rioters attacking the Capitol and expressed horror at what he observed on television.
“I stood up and my mouth dropped,” he said. “I thought to myself this could not be happening in this country. I could not fathom this taking place in the U.S.”
Litsky noted that many of the MPD officers who defended the Capitol came from MPD’s First District Headquarters that protects his neighborhood. He said the Capitol attack “was very personal for me.”
“This is how the Holocaust got started,” Litsky said, referring to the Jewish genocide that took place in Europe during World War II instigated by the leaders of Nazi Germany.
Bowser said several steps need to be taken in order to prevent a repeat of Jan. 6.
“The national intelligence agencies should take seriously threats from within,” the mayor said. “In addition to what was going on at the Capitol, there were two active bombs in the District [at the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican National Committees]. We haven’t located who put those bombs there.”
Bowser believes she should have the authority to activate the D.C. National Guard. Presently, the U.S. Secretary of Defense has that authority, a recent change from the president having that power. Efforts to pass legislation giving the mayor the power to activate the city’s National Guard failed to be approved by the U.S. Senate last year.
District leaders have not revealed plans to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riots, The Informer has learned.