To the Editor:
On this January 6 day of remembrance and memorialization, I listened to members of Congress praise the actions of officers who saved them from the mob a year ago. I would like to praise these officers for their self-restraint while under siege, for the actions they did not resort to.
For decades, former President Donald Trump has been a proponent of extreme policing. From the beginning of his presidency, Trump mockingly challenged police to violate procedures that protect suspects and police prisoners from injury.
In the months leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, with a bully’s obsession, with domination and a coward’s fascination with violence, Trump continued his drumbeat of incitement. On that day, had the besieged officers, their lives under imminent threat, “stood their ground” and opened fire, there would have been a bloodbath.
From video footage of the Capitol grounds, we know that many of Trump’s mob were armed. We also know that when Trump officials belatedly authorized the National Guard, their only possible mission was to clear the Capitol. There had been no provision for mass arrests, and by then there was no time. Armed instigators, many with tactical training, slipped away, leaving Trump’s amateurs and improvisors to face the law.
We know that Republicans wanted to slow, stop or throw out the Electoral College certification. We also know that many in the Trump camp wanted to impose martial law. A bloodbath at the Capitol would have given them cover to seize power without the inconvenience of an election.
Donald Trump is not the first or only Republican to chafe under constitutional restraint or to treat the law as an obstacle to their personal advancement. The self-control demonstrated by police under attack at the Capitol was a most courageous example of law enforcement; it foiled Republicans’ worst impulses and preserved the transfer of power.