Veterans urge GOP leaders to condemn political violence


Dozens of military veterans on Wednesday handed over handwritten letters to top Republicans in the US House of Representatives, urging them to publicly condemn political violence on the second anniversary of the January 6 attacks. into the approaching Capitol.

Former Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone wrote the letter, which was signed by more than 1,000 veterans, active-duty service members, law enforcement officers and military families. Fanone, who was beaten and chased during the attack on the Capitol, delivered a copy to the office of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. While the GOP leadership remains unstable, the groups behind the attempt to see the Georgia representative as one of the de facto leaders of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

The veterans also sent letters to GOP Representatives James Comer of Kentucky, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Elise Stefanik of New York and Kevin McCarthy of California, who are trying to become speaker of the House of Representatives. .

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

The visits come at a tumultuous time on Capitol Hill. The core of conservative House Republicans rejected McCarthy’s attempt to be named speaker in multiple votes on Tuesday and Wednesday. The GOP’s failure to elect a new speaker has brought House business to a halt, including the swearing in of members and the appointment of a committee chair.

In the letter, Fanone urged Republicans in the House of Representatives to release a public statement condemning all forms of political violence and “promising to hold the members of your convention accountable.” about endorsing violence or endorsing violent claims against those who disagree with them politically.”

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

Fanone was among dozens of law enforcement officers injured in the January 6, 2021 uprising, when a mob marched to the Capitol at Trump’s urging and attacked it to prevent evidence. accepted the 2020 presidential election. Fanone told the House committee investigating the uprising that the assault on him, which was stopped only when he said he had children, caused him to have a heart attack.

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

“I think we’re still in serious danger,” Fanone said, despite this year’s midterm elections, in which some of Trump’s associates were turned down by voters. “I was like, yes, Democrats won — by a small percentage in many places.”

He said: “Although many of the candidates denying the results of the 2020 presidential election have been defeated, “a lot of those races have come a lot closer than they should have been.” .

Lies about the 2020 election have spread widely and infiltrated Republican voters. As recently as October, 58% of Republicans don’t think President Joe Biden’s election was legitimate, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs poll.

Naveed Shah, an army veteran who is the political director, said veterans have joined groups that share Fanone’s concerns about extremism in the US and believe it creates a climate of peace. “really opposed to the oath we made when we enlisted”. for Common Defense and a spokesman for Courage for America.

“The uprising is neither the end nor the beginning of this kind of slow-moving 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 political violence in any form needs to be condemned.”

After the groups wrap up in Washington, Shah said members will travel around the country to talk to representatives in their districts about the need to condemn political violence and the language that fuels it.

Dozens of people charged in the Capitol attack are from the military, including some with links to far-right groups that are facing the most serious charges. Others arrested during the riots included a reservist who wore Hitler’s mustache while working at a Navy base and an active-duty Marine officer seen on camera clashing with footage. monitor and help other members of the pro-Trump crowd enter the base. Capital.

Alex Babcock, an ex-soldier from Florida, started out as a Republican, but what he saw in the 2016 election – when Trump claimed rampant fraud even before winning victory over Hillary Clinton – brought him to the Common Defense.

He said veterans have a strong voice in defending American democracy because they are willing to give their lives for it. He said it was important to condemn politicians who were trying to cover up their message.

“There aren’t a lot of people out there who say, ‘I want to hurt that guy,'” Babcock said. “But there are people who speak a language clearly enough if you’re listening.”

Writer Alanna Durkin Richer of the Associated Press in Boston contributed to this report.


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