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President Joe Biden condemned ‘sick insurrectionists’ and bestowed high honors on Friday to those who stood up against the January 6 mob two years ago and thwarted efforts to upend 2020 election results in several swing states, declaring ‘America is a land of laws, not chaos.’

‘Our democracy held,’ Biden said in awarding Presidential Citizens Medals to fourteen recipients from across the country in the White House East Room. ‘We the people did not flinch.’

The honorees were a who’s who of those who testified before the House Select Committee on January 6 including opening witness, Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Georgia poll workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss.  

At least nine people who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, died during or after the rioting, including Ashli Babbitt who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies according to authorities.

President Joe Biden tore into the 'sick insurrectionists' as he awarded 14 individuals with the Presidential Citizens Medal at a White House ceremony Friday marking the second anniversary of the January 6 Capitol attack

President Joe Biden tore into the ‘sick insurrectionists’ as he awarded 14 individuals with the Presidential Citizens Medal at a White House ceremony Friday marking the second anniversary of the January 6 Capitol attack

Two officers, Howard Liebengood of the Capitol Police and Jeffrey Smith of the Metropolitan Police, were at the Capitol that Jan. 6 and died by suicide in the days following the attack. Biden honored both with posthumous medals.

A third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and died after engaging with the protesters. A medical examiner later determined he died of natural causes.

The Metropolitan Police announced months later that two more of their officers who had responded to the insurrection, Kyle DeFreytag and Gunther Hashida, had also died by suicide.

“Sick insurrectionists,” Biden said. “We must say clearly with a united voice that there is no place … for voter intimidation or election violence.

 ‘What you did was truly consequential. Not a joke,’ Biden told the awardees, including family members of the fallen officers. ‘If I could halt for a second and just say to you the impact of what happened on July the 6th had international repercussions beyond what any of you can understand,’ Biden said, messing up the date by six months.      

President Joe Biden accidentally called the date 'July the 6th' at one point during his remarks Friday from the White House's East Room

President Joe Biden accidentally called the date ‘July the 6th’ at one point during his remarks Friday from the White House’s East Room 

At the event, Biden got the most heated when he spoke about the death of Capitol Police Officer Billy Evans, who was killed in a car attack in April 2021, while the Capitol Building was still heavily fortified in the aftermath of the insurrection. 

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Evans died, Biden said, ‘three months after January 6 while they’re still cordoning off the Capitol because of the threats of these sick insurrectionists continued to be profligated on the internet.’ 

‘Officer Evans was killed defending the checkpoint you had to go through to get up to the Capitol because of these God-awful sick threats that continued to go forward,’ the president continued. ‘And the whole world saw it.’ 

The president also got riled up when he spoke about what happened to Freeman and Moss, the mother-and-daughter Atlanta election workers who became targeted by former President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani for passing a fictional USB drive filled with fake votes to one another. 

When Moss testified before the January 6 committee in June, she revealed she had given her mother a ‘ginger mint.’ 

‘Both of them are just doing their job until they were targeted and threatened by the same predators and peddlers of lies that would fuel the insurrection,’ Biden said. ‘They were forced from their homes facing despicable racist taunts.’ 

Biden said he had become a ‘friend’ of former D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, one of the most outspoken officers about getting people held accountable since the Capitol attack. 

As he gave an award to Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, Biden butchered his name and then remarked: ‘He can call me President Bidden from now on’ – a lighthearted moment in what was otherwise a somber occasion. 

Presenting Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges with his medal, Biden recalled one of the most shocking scenes of the riot – seeing Hodges screaming in agony as he was getting crushed in a Capitol doorway.

‘His first time inside the Capitol was on January 6 – sprayed with poison, pinned and crushed, eye almost gauged out, but he didn’t break,’ Biden recalled. 

‘After it was over, he was asked what he had been fighting for. Just a local guy. An ordinary American and he gave a simple, straightforward answer,’ Biden continued. 

Hodges’ answer, the president said, was ‘democracy.’   

‘He wasn’t a scholar, he wasn’t a historian, he was a red-blooded American fighting for democracy,’ Biden said.  

When offering condolences to the family of Officer Liebengood the president recalled how he had known the late cop’s father, Howard Liebengood Sr., had served as Senate sergeant at arms in the 1980s. 

‘Howard’s dad was a good friend,’ Biden said. ‘We were genuinely friends.’ 

‘He lost his life after protecting the democratic institutions he learned to revere growing up,’ Biden added. 

The president applauded the families of both Liebengood and Smith for pushing to get laws changed so that officers who experienced traumatic events and then committed suicide would be considered line-of-duty fatalities, allowing their families access to better death benefits. 

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Biden’s event was ongoing as news broke that the mother of Ashli Babbitt, the MAGA protester who was shot and killed by Capitol police amid the attack, was arrested for demonstrating Friday outside the Supreme Court. 

A handful of people who were aligned with the MAGA mob used the January 6 anniversary to push for justice for those arrested for participating. 

RECIPIENTS OF THE PRESIDENTIAL CITIZENS MEDAL 

Jocelyn Benson

Jocelyn Benson

Jocelyn Benson served as the Secretary of State of Michigan during the 2020 election and faced pressure from those seeking to overturn the election results, including armed protesters outside her home. Benson received the 2022 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.

Rusty Bowers served as the Arizona House Speaker during the 2020 election, resisting pressure from those seeking to overturn the election results. He received the 2022 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.

Harry Dunn

Harry Dunn

Harry Dunn is a Capitol Police Officer who defended the Capitol on January 6th, facing racial slurs and harassment from rioters. Dunn has served in the Capitol Police force for nearly fifteen years.

 Caroline Edwards was the first law enforcement officer injured by rioters on January 6th. Even after suffering a traumatic brain injury, Officer Edwards worked to prevent rioters from entering the Capitol building. Officer Edwards has served in law enforcement for nearly six years.

Michael Fanone

Michael Fanone

Michael Fanone served as a Metropolitan Police Department Officer and defended the Capitol on January 6th, suffering injuries during the attack. After the attack, he resigned from the Metropolitan Police Department, having served for 20 years after joining in the wake of September 11th.

Ruby Freeman served as an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election. Ms. Freeman worked to ensure that the people of Georgia could vote freely and fairly, and, for simply doing her job, was forced to withstand efforts to overturn the election that targeted and threatened her and her family.

Shaye Moss (left) and her mother Ruby Freeman (right)

Shaye Moss (left) and her mother Ruby Freeman (right) 

Aquilino Gonell served as a Capitol Police Sergeant and defended the Capitol on January 6th, suffering injuries during the attack. Sergeant Gonell is an emigrant from the Dominican Republic and a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq.

Eugene Goodman is a Capitol Police Officer who defended the Capitol on January 6th. He is credited with diverting rioters from the floor of the Senate while members were still evacuating. Officer Goodman is a U.S. Army veteran and, from January 20, 2021, to March 2, 2021, served as Acting Deputy Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. Senate.

Daniel Hodges is a Metropolitan Police Department Officer who defended the Capitol on January 6th, suffering injuries during the attack. The day of the attack was Hodges’s first time ever in the Capitol. Officer Hodges has served in the Metropolitan Police Department for over seven years. 

Howard Liebengood (posthumous) was a U.S. Capitol Police officer who died by suicide on January 9, 2021, three days after the Capitol attack. Liebengood had worked three 24 hours without sleep on January 6 and its aftermath. In November, the Department of Justice classified Liebengood’s death as a line-of-duty fatality, enabling his family to receive benefits through the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit Program.

Shaye Moss served as an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election. Like her mother, Ruby Freeman – who was also a Fulton County election worker and will also receive the Presidential Citizen Medal – Ms. Moss was subjected to threats and harassment in the wake of the election. Ms. Moss received the 2022 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award.

Al Schmidt

Al Schmidt 

Al Schmidt is a former federal civil servant and served as a city commissioner on the Philadelphia County Board of Elections. During the 2020 election, he kept the vote tally going in the face of pressure and efforts to overturn the election.

 Brian Sicknick (posthumous) was a Capitol Police officer who defended the Capitol on January 6th. After he lost his life protecting our elected representatives, Officer Sicknick was laid in honor in the Capitol rotunda in February 2021. The President, the First Lady, the Vice President, and the Second Gentleman visited to pay respects. In addition to guarding the Capitol for over a decade, Officer Sicknick also served in the New Jersey Air National Guard and was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan.

Jeffrey Smith (posthumous) was a D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer who responded to the Capitol attack on January 6 and then took his life on January 15, 2021. In March 2022, with advocacy from his family, Smith’s death was considered a line-of-duty fatality by the District of Columbia and that the ‘sole and direct’ cause of his death was the injuries he sustained at the U.S. Capitol during the riot. 

~White House 

The late Officer Brian Sicknick

The late Officer Brian Sicknick

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