“I feel insulted. I feel like they don’t have the courage. They demand something from us that they’re not willing to do, which is sacrifice their livelihood,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon Thursday night of the lawmakers who did not support the bill establishing the commission.
Capitol Police officers are increasingly sharing their frustration publicly as efforts for a commission to investigate the attack and bolster funding for Capitol Hill security have stalled, further exposing the fractured relationship between lawmakers and the officers who protect them.
Gonell told CNN’s Lemon that officers “feel insulted, because the very minimum that everybody should agree is how to prevent this from happening again.”
“At the end of the day, we want to go home to our family. And we feel that right now we are being a pawn. It is insulting. It’s disgusting, and we put our lives to give them the chance to run away to safety. I almost lost my life many, multiple times,” he said.
Last week, a crucial Senate vote on a bill establishing a bipartisan, independent commission fell 10 Republican votes short of advancing. Some Republicans didn’t support the commission, believing a commission could prove politically problematic for the GOP ahead of the 2022 midterms. Democrats charged that GOP lawmakers didn’t support the commission “out of fear or fealty” to Trump.
Some Republican lawmakers have questioned whether it was supporters of former President Donald Trump who attacked the Capitol and downplayed the violence that occurred that day, likening it to a “normal tourist” visit — despite the immense amount of evidence proving otherwise.
Gonell told CNN that he wants the lies, denials and whitewashing of what happened on January 6th to stop and that “when people deny that this happened, it’s insulting. It’s a betrayal.”
“For those people who continue to say and propagate this lie, that it was somebody else, that it was another group, come talk to me. I want to talk to them. I have video proof that what happened there was not a concert. It was not Fourth of July. I work those events and nobody beat me or anybody else,” he added.
Gonell publicly shared his January 6 experiences for the first time with CNN, speaking on his own behalf and not for the department.
During intense hand-to-hand combat with rioters, Gonell was beaten with a flagpole, had his hand sliced open, and was hit with so much chemical spray that the liquid soaked through to his skin. There were moments where Gonell thought he might die. He underwent bone fusion surgery after an injury to his right foot and still has contusions on his shoulders and gets emotional watching video of that day.
Gonell told CNN that he felt compelled to speak up after seeing Gladys Sicknick, the mother of US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who died the day after the riot, and other law enforcement officers last week urging GOP senators to support the January 6th commission.