Many people, from politicians to the general public, have been vocally unhappy about former President Trump and his apparent incitement of the January 6, Capitol Hill insurrection. While most have loudly proclaimed Trump’s guilt for riling up the crowd with his incendiary rhetoric and not so subtly suggesting they ‘take back their country’ by saying things like “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” some are starting to turn those words into actions.
The House impeachment managers in Trump’s (2nd) Senate impeachment trial certainly tried their best to paint the former commander in chief as the epitome of a reckless leader and wannabe authoritarian. Unfortunately, they were screaming into the void as the House had essentially made its mind up before either side of the impeachment trial had even opened their opening statements.
And while many shake their finger of indignation at the perceived damage done by Trump and his cronies by perpetuating the now widely debunked election fraud conspiracy theory, it’s only now that the people involved on the day and on the ground, quite literally in some cases, are seeking actual legal damages from Mr Trump for inciting and directing the right-wing rioters.
And while Trump acolytes like Sidney Powell, Mike Lindell and Rudy Giuliani are already fighting multi-billion dollar defamation lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, this is the first litigation Trump himself is facing that’s not coming from disgruntled voting machine manufacturers or opposition politicians, but by people whose job and duty it was to protect the Capitol Building, two Capitol Police officers.
The plaintiffs bringing this civil suit against the former President are officers James Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the force, and Sidney Hemby, who has served as a Capitol Police officer for 11 years. In their 40-page complaint, both men are trying to hold Trump and his rhetoric directly responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they say they suffered as a result of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The officers are demanding an award of at least $75,000 as well as punitive damages and costs associated with the litigation.
Many might dismiss this as some sort of frivolous lawsuit seeking financial gain or for fame (or infamy), but the events of Jan. 6, have really had a devastating effect on some of the serving officers that day. According to the Justice Department, approximately 81 Capitol Police and 58 Metropolitan Police Department officers were assaulted, which sadly included Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick who died the following day from his injuries.
The lawsuit from Blassingame and Hemby claim that they suffered physical and emotional damages because Trump allegedly “inflamed, encouraged, incited and directed” the violent mob that stormed the Capitol. Blassingame claims to have suffered neck and back injuries after being slammed against a stone column and constantly being called the N-word. While Hemby claims he was crushed against the doors and sprayed with chemicals.
Both officers also describe the sheer terror felt by the officers inside the Capitol, surrounded and vastly outnumbered by an increasingly aggressive mob, some with more nefarious intentions than others. They also talk about their guilt at not being able to help their fellow officers resulting in the death of the aforementioned officer Sicknick. Many officers are seeking to pursue criminal cases against many of the rioters.
Trump’s lawyers have yet to comment but that comes as little surprise as they are still failed to comment on the other two major civil lawsuits filed against him by two Democratic lawmakers who are still in the early stages of trying to legally hold Trump, and the other speakers that day, liable for the insurrection.
It’s difficult to say if the outcome of all three lawsuits will in fact hold Trump, and the proponents of the ‘stop the steal’ myth, truly accountable. One thing is for sure, the events of Jan. 6, 2021, are going to stay at the forefront of many Americans minds for years to come.