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Aquilino Gonell: Immigrant of the Day

November 07, 2023 (1 min read)

Bill Lueders, Nov. 7, 2023

"AQUILINO GONELL HELD HIS TONGUE as long as he could. He had been among the more than 400 Capitol Police officers on duty on January 6, 2021, as a mob instigated by President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol. He saw his fellow officers being “brazenly beaten with pipes, sticks, and rocks by rioters chanting ‘Fight for Trump’ and ‘USA! USA!’” He was there as they “hurled bear sprays and full cans of soda at us, making pipes and a giant Trump banner with a metal frame into ramming devices, weakening our queue.” Gonell, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, had joined the Capitol force in 2006 after a stint in the Army Reserves that included a year of active duty in Iraq. As he tells in his new book, American Shield, he engaged in hours of hand-to-hand combat with the January 6th rioters, mostly in an underground tunnel where he had once guarded George W. Bush and Barack Obama as they walked to their inaugurations. (At one point during the melee, Gonell was momentarily relieved by Michael Fanone, an officer with Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, who would later be badly beaten as members of the mob shouted “Get his gun!” and “Kill him with his own gun!”) Gonell, in his book, describes what he witnessed on January 6th as “worse than Iraq.” ... "