Officer Caroline Edwards Is A Goddamn Hero

Officer Caroline Edwards

"What I saw was just a war scene. It was something like I had seen out of the movies. I could not believe my eyes," Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards testified last night at the first hearing of the House January 6 Select Committee. "There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos."

There is a reason that Fox News only showed this woman from the back, and that reason is that her testimony was absolutely devastating. Particularly for the white and blue lives matter crowd.

"I was called a lot of things on January 6, 2021, and the days thereafter. I was called Nancy Pelosi's dog, called incompetent, called a hero and a villain. I was called a traitor to my country, my home and my Constitution. In actuality, I was none of those things," she said in her opening statement. "I was an American standing face-to-face with other Americans asking myself many, many times how we had gotten here. I had been called names before, but never had my patriotism or duty been called into question."

Officer Edwards went on to invoke her grandfather, a Korean War veteran who "lived the rest of his days with bullets and shrapnel in his legs but never once complained about his sacrifice."

"I would like to think that he would be proud of me. Proud of his granddaughter that stood her ground that day and continued fighting even though she was wounded, like he did many years ago," she went on.

It was an unmistakable echo of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who sat there in 2019 and assured his father that, "I will be fine for telling the truth" because "here right matters."

The scenes of violence on display last night — although not on Fox News — were shocking. But none was more viscerally upsetting than the footage of Edwards being attacked by the mob, making her the first law enforcement agent injured in the Capitol Riot.

Officer Edwards described Joseph Biggs, who is charged with seditious conspiracy along with four other Proud Boys, riling the crowd up against the police. Then Ryan Samsel, a Pennsylvania man with a history of violence toward woman, picked up the metal barricade and threw it at her.

“I felt the bike rack fall on top of my head, and I was pushed backward and my foot caught the stair behind me,” she said. “And my chin hit the handrail and then at that point, I had blacked out. But the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me.”

But still, when she came to, she went back on the line, both ministering to her fallen colleagues and resuming "hand-to-hand combat" with the so-called patriots.

The traumatic brain injury Officer Edwards suffered that day had longterm consequences for her.

"When will we be set free? When will we be set free of the memories and scars of that day?" she wrote, urging the court to detain Samsel pending trial. "When will I be free and full again? Free of the fear that my brain injury will cause me embarrassment at the best of circumstances, and further injury at the worst."

Which is a pretty fair statement of where we are as a country, too. And I wish that this country cared about Black people's suffering so that they could "hear" someone who looked like Officer Harry Dunn describing the violence.

But that is not the America we live in. Whether "right matters" here is still an open question, but it's simply a fact that the murder of a pretty, white woman will lead the news for a week, where the murders of 10 Black men will barely get covered. So it was extraordinarily canny of the committee to open the hearings with precisely the kind of witness that the Fox News crowd can hear. And if it takes centering the experience of a pretty, blonde, white woman to convince Americans that the people who attacked the Capitol were violent thugs participating in a coup, then so be it.

God willing, it should only work.

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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