Coming from director Jamie Roberts and HBO is a look at one day that has changed the way we look at our politicians and political system with the documentary FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITOL.
This documentary starts off with Officer Mike Fanone from the D.C. Metro Police Department with twenty years of duty. Explaining how his day would start it would be even more difficult to experience how his day would end.
At the White House, the then 45th President was giving a hell-fire speech to his supporters but down at the Capitol, proud boy Eddie Block was at the Washington Monument because he could not get to the speech. He sees people moving toward the Capitol, so he follows the group and records what he sees.
Many in the Capitol know there are people gathering outside including Rep. Buddy Carter and Rep. Jim McGovern but neither could have seen where it was going. Liah Han, assistant to the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi also was becoming aware of the gathering.
Tayler Hansen, a reporter for The Gateway Pundit was in the crowd at the White House speech and is witnessing the reaction of the crowd to what they were hearing. He followed the proud boys even before the violent outbreak. Ashley Gilbertson of The New York Times recalls the crowd as showing “blind devotion”.
Bobby Pickles, also a proud boy explained, “the president says, ‘go to the capitol’ so we went to the capitol.” Soon after began the pushing past barriers with crowds following and it is when “all hell broke loose”.
Officer Winston Pingeon from the U.S. Capitol police reports that the incident actually began 19 minutes before the White House speech ended. Already the police are overwhelmed as the crowd grows even larger, chanting gets louder and tempers flare like a flash fire. Trying to enter the Capitol building, the officers are overtaken.
Inside the chamber, Rep. Eric Swalwell and Rep. Ruben Gallego are there to certify the electoral votes of the election and have no idea what is happening outside. Violence erupts as pepper balls are shot into the crowd and pushing past the police now turns to violence against them. Videographer Brendan Gutenschwager feared what was going and for very good reason.
Couy Griffin representing cowboys for the then standing president, saw the outburst along with activist filmmaker Nick Alvear, and car salesman Domic Box all have their opinions about stolen votes and frustrations. As the crowds escalated, Commander Ramey Kyle of D.C. Metro was making his way to the Capitol saying, “we knew we were in for a fight”.
Inspector Robert Glover, also of D.C. Metro talks about officers beginning to fall and becoming injured by the crowds. Civilians were now attacking and beating police officer to get further into the building. Rep. Jim McGovern began getting txt from family about what was happening. The police are now outnumbered and the break in begins as fire alarms go off and Capitol police sweep in to take people away.
Rep. Jason Crow speaks on how everything quickly became intense, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro was told to continue on with government business. It also became quickly clear that those still in the building knew it was time to protect themselves any way they could as the protestors were becoming insurrectionists.
Officer Goodman tires to keep the crowd away from the Senate Chambers as Officer Byron Evans hears on the radio of the escalation and Officer Keith Robishaw helps to hold the line. Both Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer both tell of their experience and how quickly it happened.
The crowds inside grow larger and they are looking for the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House. Finding the Senate Chamber, the intruders ransacked papers and sat in seats while outside it had become complete bedlam as more officers like Daniel Hodge are assaulted and to survive they had to retreat.
The House of Representatives and those inside can now hear the insurrectionists and had to run. Trying to escape to the chant of “stop the steal” reverberating on the floor. There were people in the gallery hiding and making calls to loved ones. Finally, Rep. Adam Kinzinger is led with others to a protective location and is angry that the then president said – nothing.
Officer Fanone arrives at the Capitol and, along with partner Jimmy Albright get to the Capitol tunnel and see that the insurrectionists were attempting to push their way in as the police hold the line. Other officers begin to show up as well and they managed to push the crowd completely back out the tunnel.
As control is resumed, so is the business of the government and the continuation of certifying the election. In the end, 140 officers are injured with one officer dead and four protesters die.
Arrests begin to happen and the reality of it is that the man who pushed the crowds forward promising to be there with them to the Capitol is the same man who stayed behind.
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FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITOL is a look at the timeline of the attack on the Capitol building on January 6, 2020. I know where I was, because it was hours before I could get up from my seat. Sitting at home with family watching the news about the certification, it started as a low murmur and almost in a blink it became violent, and my jaw dropped. Calling out to my family who were in the next room to join me because there was no way I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.
They looked at the television set and I saw the look on their faces so it became clear that we were witnessing something frightening which would be followed by horror. It became a day that is still talked about 21 months later.
What director Roberts was able to do was gather those who lived and, in some cases, survived the day. Even more poignant are the stories that we did not know about that reignited the horror for my family who thought we had seen it all. It is in these stories and the faces of those telling it that will break hearts.
That day also bring the realization that since September 11th has our country been united in a cause like we all were that day. Now, there is arguing, fighting, accusing, lying, deceiving just to name a few of the divisive things that are happening in the country. The idea of fair play and people who run for office congratulate the winner and look to the next challenge has been damaged, perhaps beyond repair.
Watching FOUR HOURS AT THE CAPITOL, all I could think was that those protecting the Capitol and its occupants inside must have felt like the day was never going to end. The fear and anxiety was palpable then and it seemed to still be with those telling their story. Each frame of the story lets us know what happened and we have certainly learned why it happened even before January 6, 2020.
The importance of this documentary is to never, ever let this happen again and to do that we have to understand how it all got to this point. Not that many of need a grand outline of that but it is important in the telling about this day.
In the end – the ramifications are still being felt today!