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Former DC officer Fanone and veterans urge House GOP leaders to condemn political violence

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WASHINGTON — Dozens of military veterans delivered letters to leading U.S. House Republicans on Wednesday, calling on them to publicly condemn political violence as the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol approaches.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone wrote the letter, which has been signed by more than 1,000 military veterans, active duty members, law enforcement officers and military families. Fanone, who was beaten and shocked in the Capitol attack, delivered a copy to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s office. While the GOP leadership remains unstable, the groups behind the effort see the Georgia representative as one of the de facto leaders of the new Republican majority in the House.

The veterans also delivered letters to GOP Reps. James Comer of Kentucky, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Elise Stefanik of New York, and Kevin McCarthy of California, who is vying to become Speaker of the House.

Wednesday’s visit to the Capitol was organized by the groups Common Defense and Courage for America to draw attention to the violent rhetoric they say remains a threat to American democracy. They want leading House Republicans to not only condemn political violence, but to hold accountable those who spread violent and hateful messages.

The tours come at a tumultuous time on Capitol Hill. A core of conservative House Republicans rejected McCarthy’s bids to be named speaker in several votes on Tuesday and Wednesday. The GOP’s inability to elect a new chairman suspended House business, including the swearing in of its members and the appointment of committee chairs.

In the letter, Fanone calls on House Republicans to issue a public statement condemning all forms of political violence and “pledge to hold your conference members accountable for condoning violence or adopting violent rhetoric toward those who disagree with them politically”.

The letter documents several incidents of politically motivated violence, including the attack on an FBI office in Ohio following the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and the attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, as well as threats and comments calling for her execution.

Fanone was one of dozens of law enforcement officers injured in the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising, when a mob marched to the Capitol at Trump’s behest and attacked in an attempt to to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election. Fanone told the House committee that investigated the insurgency that the aggression against him, which only stopped when he said he had children, had caused him a heart attack.

In an interview, Fanone said he was looking for an organization that expressed his values ​​and his concerns about the future of the country, and that led him to Courage for America, a progressive group created after the Republicans won the majority in the House in November. Common Defence, a progressive grassroots organization of veterans, was established during the 2016 election.

“I think we’re still in grave danger,” Fanone said, despite this year’s midterm elections in which a number of Trump cronies were voted out by voters. “I was like, yes, democracy won – by a fraction of a percent in many places.”

Although many candidates who denied the results of the 2020 presidential election were defeated, “many of these races were much closer than they should have been,” he said.

The lies about the 2020 election have spread widely and penetrated the Republican electorate. As recently as October, 58% of Republicans did not believe President Joe Biden’s election was legitimate, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

Veterans who have joined the groups share Fanone’s concerns about extremism in the United States and believe it creates a situation “that is really in opposition to the oath we took when we joined the military,” said Naveed Shah, an army veteran who is the political director. for Common Defense and spokesperson for Courage for America.

“The insurgency was neither the end nor the beginning of this kind of slow coup,” he said. “I’m not going to try to predict what will happen in the future, but what I can say is that you know that political violence in all its forms must be condemned.”

Once the groups are finished in Washington, Shah said members will travel the country speaking to representatives from their districts about the need to condemn political violence and the language that fuels it.

Dozens of those charged in the Capitol attack have military backgrounds, including some associated with far-right groups who face the most serious charges. Others arrested in the riot included an Army reservist who wore a Hitler mustache at his job at a Navy base and an active-duty Marine Corps officer seen on camera snarling. scuffle with the police and help other members of the pro-Trump mob fight their way through the Capitol.

Florida Army veteran Alex Babcock started out as a Republican, but what he saw in the 2016 election — when Trump claimed widespread fraud even before his victory over Hillary Clinton — led him to Common Defense.

He said veterans have a strong voice in defense of American democracy because they are willing to sacrifice their lives for it. He said it was important to call out politicians who try to cover up their posts.

“There aren’t a lot of people out there who say, ‘I want to go hurt this guy,’” Babcock said. “But there are people who speak a sufficiently clear language if you listen.”

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