‘This attack happened’: Senate approves medals for police in Capitol attack

Four officers have taken their own lives since the January 6 attack by Trump supporters

US Capitol police attend a morning briefing outside the US Capitol in Washington. Reuters
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The US Senate on Tuesday agreed to award Congressional Gold Medals to police officers who fought rioters at the Capitol on January 6, the day after authorities disclosed that two more of those officers had died by suicide.

If approved by President Joe Biden as expected, the honour would go to members of the Capitol Police and Washington, DC's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) who fought against a mob of hundreds of Donald Trump supporters attempting to overturn his election defeat.

“Awarding the Congressional Gold Medal is a way to commemorate their sacrifice and make sure that the truth of January 6 is recognised and remembered forever,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on the chamber's floor.

While introducing the legislation, Amy Klobuchar said children of the future will be able to walk by and see the medals in the Smithsonian Institution and their parents will tell them: “This happened, this attack happened.”

Authorities on Monday said two more police officers who responded to the January 6 riot had died by suicide, bringing to four the number of known suicides by officers who guarded the building that day.

MPD Officer Gunther Hashida was found dead in his home last week and another MPD officer who responded on January 6, Kyle DeFreytag, was found dead on July 10.

Mr Biden commemorated the two officers whose suicides were recently disclosed, saying in a Twitter post: “They were American heroes.”

Hundreds of Trump had supporters stormed the Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Congress from certifying Mr Biden's election win. Four people died on the day of the violence.

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who had been attacked by protesters died the following day.

More than 100 police officers were injured and the mayhem led to Mr Trump's second impeachment trial.

More than 500 people have been arrested for their roles in the violence.

During an emotional hearing last week, four police officers told a House of Representatives special committee that they were beaten, threatened, taunted with racial insults and thought they might die as they struggled to defend the Capitol against the mob.

Updated: August 03, 2021, 8:19 PM