Biden Heralds Officers Who Fought Insurrection at U.S. Capitol

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President Joe Biden heralded law enforcement officers for defending democracy against a “radical and chaotic” insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as he signed legislation Thursday awarding Congressional Gold Medals to officers serving that day.

“My fellow Americans, let’s remember what this was all about,” Biden said at a Rose Garden ceremony. “It was a violent attempt to overturn the will of the American people, to seek power at all costs, to replace the ballot with brute force. To destroy, not to build. Without democracy, nothing is possible. With it, everything is.”

Biden praised officers who “stood in the breach” as rioters supporting former President Donald Trump forced their way into the Capitol building in a bid to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College vote. Biden denounced those involved as a “mob of extremists and terrorists.”

“It wasn’t dissent, it wasn’t debate, it wasn’t democracy,” Biden said. “It was insurrection.”

Dozens of officers from the U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police Department were injured in the melee, and Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of a stroke the following day. Four other officers have since died from suicide.

Biden acknowledged the families of the officers, and said he recognized the ceremony was “bittersweet.”

“It’s nice to be honored and have those that you lost remembered, but it’s tough to be here,” Biden said.

The president also offered implicit criticism of some Republican lawmakers who have downplayed the attack, which so far has resulted in hundreds of arrests. Representative Andrew Clyde, a Georgia Republican, earlier this year said that one video of rioters looked like they were engaged in a “normal tourist visit,” while Representative Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, has denounced the shooting by a law enforcement officer of Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who attempted to breach the Capitol chamber.

“We can’t allow history to be rewritten, we cannot allow the heroism of these officers to be forgotten,” Biden said.

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