A District of Columbia police officer repeatedly expressed his astonishment that Donald Trump rioters tried to convince law enforcement to join their effort to overturn the election.
Officer Daniel Hodges, of Metropolitan police, testified Tuesday before a U.S. House committee on the Jan. 6 insurrection, where he vividly described the violence he endured and the apparent surprise the rioters felt when officers tried to stop them from blocking the electoral certification.
"As we came close to the terrorist our line was divided and we came under attack," Hodges testified. "A man attempted to rip the baton from my hands and we wrestled for control. I retained my weapon, he yelled at me, 'You're on the wrong team.' Cut off from my leadership, which is at the front of our formation, we huddled up and assessed the threat surrounding us. One man tried and failed to build a rapport with me, shouting, 'Are you my brother?' Another shouting, 'You will die on your knees.'"
Hodges described the surreal array of flags the rioters carried as they violently stormed the building.
"The sea of people was punctuated throughout by flags, mostly variations of American flags and Trump flags," he said. "There was Gadsden flags -- it was clear the terrorists perceived themselves to be Christians. I saw the Christian flag directly to my front, another read 'Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president.' Another, 'Jesus is king.' One flag read, 'Don't give up the ship.' Another had cross-rifles beneath a skull emblazoned with the pattern of the American flag. To my perpetual confusion I saw the 'thin blue line' flag, the symbol of support for law enforcement, more than once being carried by the terrorists as they ignored our commands and continued to assault us."
Hodges told lawmakers that Trump supporters blasted police with chemical irritants, including wasp spray, and demanded officers join their violent assault.
"The terrorists alternated between attempt to go break our defense and shouting at or attempting to convert us," Hodges said. "Men alleging to be veterans told us how they had fought for this country and were fighting for it again. One man tried to start a chant of 'four more years.' Another shouted do not attack us, we are not Black Lives Matter, as if political affiliation is how we determine when to use force. A man in a QAnon hoodie explained, 'This is the time to choose which side of history to be on.' A man whose shirt read 'God, guns and Trump' stood behind him silently holding a Trump flag. A new man came to the front and fixated on me, telling me to take off my gear and give it to him to show solidarity with 'we the people' or 'we're going to run over you,' his voice cracked with the strain and volume of the stress."
"He continued, 'Do you think your little pea shooter guns are going to stop this crowd?'" he added. "'No, we're going in that building.' Eventually there was a surge in the crowd, the fence buckled and broke apart and we were unable to hold the line."
Hodges said he and other officers were forced to retreat into the Capitol, where Trump supporters continued to alternately batter them and ask them to switch sides.
"Eventually it was my turn in the meat grinder that was the front line," he testified. "The terrorists had a wall of shield they had stolen from officers as well as stolen batons and what other arms they brought. Even during this intense contest of wills they tried to convert us to their cult. One man shouted, 'We all just want to make our voices heard, and I think you feel the same. I think you really feel the same.'"
"All while another man attempts to batter us with a stolen shield," he added. "Another man like many others didn't seem to appreciate that this wasn't a game. He fought his way across the lawn, up the steps, through the western terrace, all the OC and CS gas and, at the front line of this final threshold, was asking us to hold on because he had asthma."
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