“Book ‘em, Danno!” Trials are beginning in federal courts for some of the hundreds of people arrested in connection with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when a mob of Donald Trump loyalists attacked police and unlawfully entered the structure in a mad effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump’s supporters brought domestic terrorism to Capitol Hill and lawlessly besmirched a building that is the symbol of American government and the rule of law.
More than 500 people have been arrested in the aftermath of the insurrection. Hundreds of federal court battles will be a slow process, but the process has begun. On July 19, defendant Paul Hodgkins received eight months in prison after he pleaded guilty to obstruction of the congressional business of certifying electoral votes that gave Joe Biden the White House and Trump an eviction notice. Hodgkins was part of the MAGA mob that trespassed onto the Senate floor during the right-wing riot on Jan. 6. At the time, he carried a Trump flag and wore a backpack containing rope and latex gloves. “When a mob is prepared to attack the Capitol, democracy is in trouble,” said Judge Randolph Moss, who presided over the case.
A longer federal prison sentence is expected for Scott Fairlamb, who could receive up to 51 months behind bars for assaulting police and obstructing Congress when he is sentenced soon. So far only six Capitol Hill insurrectionists have been sentenced, and sentences have been relatively light. That trend could change for defendant Fairlamb and the scores of other accused rioters who will be brought to trial as the wheels of justice grind slowly toward verdicts, not vindication, for the MAGA mobsters.
On July 27, the eyes of the nation were again focused on Capitol Hill as four policemen, who were on duty during the Jan. 6 riot, testified to Congress about the mob violence that was directed against them during the MAGA melee. The cops told harrowing tales of being beaten, tased and sprayed with chemical irritants by sore loser Trump troops who invaded the Capitol. The lawless conduct of Trump supporters who have long claimed to “Back the Blue” and “support law enforcement” was on full display in Washington during their attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
Earlier this month, Congressional Gold Medals were awarded to the police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, but 21 Republican representatives voted against the much-deserved honor. Not surprisingly, Georgia representatives Andrew Clyde, Jody Hice and Marjorie Taylor Greene were among those who voted against awarding gold medals to the officers. Clyde, Hice and Greene are a truculent trio of apologists for Trump’s troublemakers who stormed the Capitol on that deadly day in January. They and most of their fellow congressional Republicans have attempted to mitigate and downplay the insurrection ever since it happened, but as President Biden said of the crimes of Jan. 6, “The tragedy that day deserves the truth above all else. We cannot allow history to be rewritten.”
Republican politicians who deny the events of Jan. 6 are indeed trying to rewrite history that was viewed by millions of Americans as it happened. They call Democrats a socialist party even as their own Republican Party shows more and more fealty to the fascism of white supremacy and militia mentality. Such politicians should read the dystopian writings of novelists George Orwell and Sinclair Lewis. In his chilling novel of authoritarianism, 1984, Orwell wrote of political apparatchiks who deny reality, decry reform and distort history: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” In It Can’t Happen Here, his tale of a fascist dictatorship in America, Lewis wrote words in the 1930s that apply to this nation today: “A country that tolerates evil means—evil manners, standards of ethics—for a generation will be so poisoned that it will never have any good end.”
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