Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges repeatedly characterized the Jan. 6 insurrectionists as terrorists on Tuesday and explained exactly why by referring to the term’s definition in the federal code.
Hodges was one of four police officers who testified at the first hearing of the congressional inquiry into the U.S. Capitol attack. The officers recounted the hell they faced when a violent mob of Donald Trump’s supporters laid siege to the building in an effort to overturn the presidential election in his favor.
“I can see why someone would take issue with the title of terrorist. It’s gained a lot of notoriety in our vocabulary in the past few decades ... ,” Hodges told the House select committee when asked by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) about his use of the term. “But I came prepared.”
He read the definition aloud: “The term domestic terrorism means activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state. And (b) appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population, or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.”
Hodges, one of scores of police officers injured at the Capitol on Jan. 6, was seen on video being crushed in a door during the violence. He repeatedly used the word “terrorists” as he recounted his harrowing experience that day.
People have long questioned why white, domestic terrorists aren’t called out more often for what they are.
As far as federal law enforcement goes, it’s linked in part to how they can use the law. While the U.S. code defines domestic terrorism and the offenders may fit the bill, there’s no stand-alone crime of domestic terrorism itself. The statutes that prosecutors can use against domestic terrorists often don’t include that term, and the use of the word “terrorist” to describe someone who is not being charged with a terrorism statute could damage the prosecution.
Hodges also expressed confusion at seeing rioters who purported to be allies of law enforcement.
“To my perpetual confusion, I saw the Thin Blue Line flag, a symbol of support for police, more than once as the terrorists continued to ignore our commands and attacked us,” he said.
Hodges and his U.S. Capitol and D.C. Metro police colleagues called for a thorough investigation into the attack. The select committee is made up of a panel of nine lawmakers, seven Democrats and two Republicans, all appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).