President Joe Biden will mark the second anniversary of the January 6 attack on the Capitol by honouring several of the police officers who defended the US legislature from the pro-Trump mob that tried to stop certification of the 2020 election, as well as elected officials and election workers who distinguished themselves by standing up to former president Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the election.
A White House official said Mr Biden will award the Presidential Citizens Medal to a group of 12 “individuals who made exemplary contributions to our democracy surrounding January 6, 2021,” who “demonstrated courage and selflessness during a moment of peril for our nation”.
The group includes current and former US Capitol and Washington, DC Metropolitan Police officers, election workers and state and local officials.
The medal, which is one of the nation’s highest civilian honours, is awarded to people who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens”. The Friday ceremony will be the first time Mr Biden has bestowed the award on anyone.
According to the White House, Mr Biden will award the medal to the four police officers who rose to prominence after testifying before the House January 6 select committee last year: Former US Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, former DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, and officers Harry Dunn and Daniel Hodges of the Capitol and Metropolitan Police departments.
Mr Fanone, who left the DC police department shortly after he gave evidence before the House panel, was attacked by pro-Trump rioters who stripped him of his badge, police radio, and ammunition while driving a stun gun into his neck, causing him to suffer a heart attack.
The other former officer who will be honoured, Mr Gonell, left the Capitol Police force late last year after being medically retired due to injuries he suffered while defending the Capitol from the mob. He is also a US Army veteran who served in Iraq.
Mr Biden will also award the medal to Officers Eugene Goodman and Caroline Edwards of the US Capitol Police.
Mr Goodman, who is also a US Army veteran, served as the acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms for several months in 2021. Although he did not give evidence before the select committee, he became a household name in the wake of the riot after video emerged of him single-handedly leading a group of rioters away from the Senate chamber, giving senators time to evacuate and directing the rioters to a group of waiting officers. Ms Edwards was one of the first officers injured during the riot and testified before the House panel at a hearing last summer.
Another officer who will be honoured, US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, will receive the award posthumously. Sicknick suffered a stroke after engaging with rioters and died at a Washington DC hospital the day after the riot.
In addition to the law enforcement officials being honoured on Friday, the president will also bestow the same award on election workers and elected officials who helped prevent Mr Trump’s plan from succeeding.
Many of the civilians who will receive the same medal also testified before the House panel, including ex-Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and former Philadelphia County Board of Elections member Al Schmidt, as well as Ruby Freeman and Andrea Moss, former Fulton County, Georgia election workers who were targeted by Mr Trump and his allies, who to this day continue to spread vile conspiracy theories which posit that the mother-and-daughter pair stuffed ballot boxes to help Mr Biden win the Peach State in 2020.