The Nation and the World

Looking back on the Capitol attack of January 6

January 6, 2022, marked the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Last year, as Congress was certifying the results of the 2021 presidential election, supporters of then-President Trump stormed the Capitol building, forcing members of Congress to take shelter. This event was connected to the deaths of at least six people, and the entire country became polarized surrounding this chaotic event. 

This year, on the anniversary of these tragic deaths, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hosted a prayer vigil. Around 100 lawmakers attended, holding candles on the Capitol steps. Among these politicians were Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. According to the Washington Examiner, the only two Republican attendees were Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said he would have been present if he and his wife weren’t expecting the arrival of their first child. 

This vigil was an event to commemorate the people who lost loved ones and to use the memory of the attack to bring Americans together instead of pushing them apart. Pelosi began the vigil by saying “On behalf of the distinguished Democratic leader of the Senate… we prayerfully mark one year since the insurrection, and patriotically honor the heroes who defended the Capitol and our democracy that day. Let us all here join in a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives and sacrificed so much for our democracy that day.”

Of the lost lives, Brian Sicknick was a Capitol Police officer and Iraq War veteran. His family described him as a “lovely, humble soul.” He was injured while engaging with the protesters and died the next day. Officials initially said that Sicknick was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher, but medical experts later confirmed that his death resulted from being sprayed by mace or bear spray. 

Four officers who responded to the attack later died by suicide. Officer Howard Liebengood, who had been with the Capitol Police Department for 15 years, and Officer Jeffrey Smith, there for 12 years, both took their own lives days after the attack. According to CNN, on July 29, 2021, Metropolitan Police Officer Gunther Hashida, who joined the District of Colombia’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in 2003, was found dead in his home. Officer Kyle DeFreytag was also confirmed dead by suicide in July, just hours after Hashida. DeFreytag had been with the MPD since 2016, and his death brought the number of police deaths to five.

Four Trump supporters died during the protest. Ashli Babbit, an Air Force veteran, was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she climbed through a broken window that led to the Speaker’s Lobby. Her last moments, which were captured on video, consisted of her being lifted through the window with a Trump flag around her neck. Another person killed was Rosanne Boyland, from Kennesaw, Georgia, who posted her support for then-president Trump on social media. Video footage shows Boyland’s cause of death resulting from being crushed by other rioters while they attempted to push through police lines. 

Two more deaths resulted from natural causes at this event. Kevin Greeson of Athens, Alabama, was talking to his wife on the phone when he suffered a heart attack and fell to the sidewalk. His wife had said that he traveled to D.C. to be a part of this “monumental event” despite concerns about his high blood pressure. His family claims that though he was present at the protest, he “was not there to participate in violence or rioting, nor did he condone such actions.” Benjamin Philips was from Pennsylvania and was also the founder of a pro-Trump website, Trumparoo. According to fellow Trump supporters who accompanied Philips to Washington, he died of a stroke, though details are unclear and his family could not be reached according to the New York Times. 

Photo: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the prayer vigil. Image source: Daily Mail.

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