Democratic and Republican lawmakers assembled on Tuesday to award four Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement officials who were present during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, making good on legislation passed more than a year ago to honor representatives of the Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police with Congress' highest form of appreciation.
"Staring down deadly violence and despicable bigotry, our law enforcement officers bravely stood in the breach, ensuring that democracy survived on that dark day," outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during the ceremony. She also described Jan. 6 as "a day of horror and heartbreak" as well as "a moment of extraordinary heroism."
As the law enforcement officials and their families walked past the congressional leaders to accept their medals, many conspicuously refused to shake the hands of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
"It's self-explanatory," explained the brother of officer Brian Sicknick, who died shortly after the insurrection attempt. "They came out right away and condemned what happened on Jan. 6. And then whatever hold that Trump has on them — they've backstepped, they've danced, they won't admit to wrongdoing."
The tension at the event was not limited to the stage. According to former police officer Michael Fanone, one of the attendees at the ceremony who had previously testified to Congress about his experience during the attack, members of the Metropolitan Police Department's Special Operations Division actively heckled him at the medal event. "They called me a piece of s--t," he told NBC News. "And mockingly called me a 'great f--king hero' while clapping."