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Tag: brian sicknick

Capitol Rioters’ Own Footage Powers ​New York Times​ ‘Day Of Rage’ Report

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

While some professional journalists faced hostility and attack while covering the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the grand irony is that so many people involved in the insurrection were doing their jobs for them.

That's evident with The New York Times' release of "Day of Rage," a 40-minute video investigation that painstakingly examines the events of the day. The Times' team collected thousands of videos, starting the afternoon of January 6, many of them posted on social media by the rioters themselves, said Malachy Browne, senior producer on the Times' visual investigations team.

"As the realization set in among many of the participants about what they had done, and the implications of it, much of it was deleted," Browne said.

Too late. The Times had already protected its own copies.

The day had been tough for some of the journalists who covered the attack. Photojournalists for The Associated Press and Times were roughed up, and some AP equipment used to document the event was damaged.

In "Day of Rage," the newspaper used the collected footage, as well as other material like police bodycam film and archived audio from police communications, to recreate the event from many angles. Through the use of time stamps and knowledge of where people were located, for example, the Times tracked down footage from a freelance videographer who hadn't realized he had captured the attack that led to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick's death, Browne said. Sicknick collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. He was sprayed with chemical irritants, but a medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.

The Times was able to determine that rioters breached the Capitol at eight separate locations.

Elsewhere, the footage laid bare the intent of many rioters, like when former President Donald Trump's speech at the pre-riot rally were juxtaposed with what was said in his audience as he spoke.

The Times' probe concludes that the House's delay in shutting off debate on election certification until rioters had appeared outside the chamber contributed to the shooting by police of Ashli Babbitt, a California woman who had joined the crowd that breached the building.

The project depicts law enforcement as overwhelmed, partly due to lack of preparation by their superiors. The footage, some of it seen in other venues over the past months, contains startling moments: a police officer goading a rioter to move in one direction while senators slip to safety in the background, a House employee barricaded in an office whispering to a colleague while a door is being pounded from the outside.

While the footage spots efforts by members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, showing their body armor, weapons, radio communication and organized movements, the Times concludes that the majority of rioters were Trump supporters caught up in the frenzy of the action.

"For many in the crowd, they felt they were carrying out some duty to defend democracy as they see it," Browne said.

The Times' story had nine bylines, but Browne estimated some 15 to 20 journalists participated in its preparation. Even before the documentary's release late Wednesday, the findings contributed to the newspaper's reporting about the incident over the past few months.

Browne, who also narrates the video, minces no words in telling viewers what was concluded.

"Our reconstruction shows the Capitol riot for what it was — a violent assault, encouraged by the president, on a seat of democracy that he vowed to protect," he says in the documentary.

The film also shows a congressman likening the rioters to tourists. "A tourist visit this was not," Browne narrates, "and the proof is in the footage."

The Times' investigation could take on added importance given the stalled government effort to thoroughly investigate what happened that day.

"I think recent events have made a presentation like this more valuable," he said. "Maybe it will create pressure for the investigation. I don't know. Our intention is not to influence policy or politicians, but to really show the public what happened in the fullest way possible."

Right-Wing Media Pushing Conspiracy Theories About Ofc. Sicknick's Death

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News' Tucker Carlson, and other right-wing commentators like Patrick Howley and Steve Bannon are using the cloudy circumstances of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick's death to shift attention away from former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial and to paint a narrative that Democrats and the media are concocting lies to punish Trump and his supporters.

Since Sicknick's death the day after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, right-wing media have seized on inconsistencies in reporting on the cause of his death. Initial reports from The New York Times, citing law enforcement sources, claimed Sicknick had succumbed to injuries inflicted by the mob, which allegedly struck the officer with a fire extinguisher. Subsequent reporting by ProPublica and other media, however, cast doubt on the nature of the injuries and revealed that the officer had texted his brother that evening and had told him that although he had been pepper sprayed twice, he was feeling fine.

In response to these inconsistencies, right-wing reporter Patrick Howley led the charge casting doubt on the story surrounding Sicknick. On January 14, he published an article in the National File claiming that a "pre-existing medical condition" had contributed to Sicknick's death. That piece was printed the next day on Infowars' website.

"The media is trying to forge resentment against Trump and conservative activists in the eyes of Middle America, using the fallen officer as a cause celebre," Howley wrote. "But even the officer's family is pleading with the public not to politicize his death as narrative-busting details emerge."

Politicizing his death is exactly what happened, however, especially after CNN reported on February 2 that investigators were having trouble building a murder case because of a lack of evidence as to what, and who, actually caused his death. Breitbart breathlessly claimed the case illustrated "once again… that everything the establishment media report eventually ends up being exposed as a big fat lie." The National File and The National Pulse's Raheem Kassam also ran stories focusing on the media's supposed lies, as did the YouTube conspiracy theorist "Mr. Obvious" (whose channel has a quarter million subscribers).

When House impeachment managers included details about an officer having been attacked with a fire extinguisher in their trial brief, the controversy picked up momentum. On February 9, fringe investigative site Revolver News published an "exclusive" on Sicknick's case laden with conspiracy theories and titled "MAGA Blood Libel: Why Are They Hiding The Medical Report?"

The article claimed that a renegade media and the Democratic Party are unfairly blaming Trump supporters for Sicknick's death. "As the Washington Uniparty mulls domestic terror laws over a MAGA Bloodbath, it increasingly looks like MAGA may have been Bloodbathed," author Darren Beattie wrote.

The article painted a web of inconsistencies, pointing to premature media reports that Sicknick had died, confusion over the nature of his injuries and when exactly he had collapsed, as well as a lack of transparency in the case. It is correct, as Revolver said, that the media made mistakes in covering the case, and law enforcement's communication has been spotty and inconsistent. Revolver News drew an absurd conclusion, however, that a conspiracy is afoot, citing the fact that Sicknick's body was cremated.

"That means no further forensic analysis can be done to establish the cause or time of Sicknick's death. Why, one must wonder, would a family still searching for answers, who has no autopsy results, no death certificate, and no medical report, authorize a cremation? Did they?" Revolver asked (emphasis original).

The next day, the story's author Beattie went on Steve Bannon's podcast War Room: Pandemic, calling it "the most important story Revolver has ever run." The segment video on Rumble has been viewed more than 100,000 times as of February 11. The Revolver story got another boost that evening when it was featured by Fox's Tucker Carlson, who called it an "exhaustive and fascinating new analysis" and used it to attack the left.

Carlson claimed that Sicknick's death by violence is the basis of a "myth" Democrats have spun surrounding the January 6 events. None of the five people who died as a result of the events at the Capitol, he said, did so because of violence by the mob, while emphasizing that only Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was killed from "intentional violence." While this may be true in the most literal sense, Carlson did not mention the harrowing videos presented earlier that day by House representatives showing Trump supporters, some of whom wore tactical armor, violently storming the Capitol building, attacking officers, and narrowly missing confronting the politicians they had been threatening.

"Whatever happened to Brian Sicknick was tragic, obviously, but it was also very different from what they have told us. They have lied about how he died. They have lied about a lot," Carlson said, before shifting the narrative to other alleged lies, such as how the riots started and who participated in them.

"Why would they lie about this?" he asked. "For an answer, think back to last Spring." The Black Lives Matter movement, conservative media's favorite boogeyman, took to the streets to protest the police killing of George Floyd. According to Carlson, the media, BLM and corporate America teamed up to force a narrative about Floyd's death. Like in Sicknick's case, the left lied about the cause of his death, Carlson said, repeating a right-wing talking point used to undermine the BLM movement that Floyd died from drug use, rather than from an officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

"Democratic partisans used a carefully concocted myth, a lie, to bumrush America into overturning the old order and handing them more power," he said. "It worked flawlessly. So why wouldn't they do it again?"

The Police Officer Murdered By Trump’s ‘Law And Order Patriots’

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

The grieving family of a slain Capitol Police officer says he was a private man whose death shouldn't be politicized. But now it is forced to make sense of the reality that he is a victim of political violence, his legacy forever linked to an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.

"He spent his life trying to help other people," the officer's eldest brother told ProPublica. "This political climate got my brother killed."

Brian David Sicknick, 42, died Thursday of injuries he sustained while trying to protect the Capitol from a mob of violent rioters supporting President Donald Trump who rushed the building to disrupt the certification of the presidential election.

Before the officer's death had officially been announced late Thursday, the Sicknick family was rushing from its home in New Jersey to see him in a Washington-area hospital as word circulated on social media that a Capitol Police officer had succumbed to grave injuries.

Last they had heard, Sicknick was in critical condition on a ventilator, according to family members who spoke to ProPublica. While some news reports had said an unnamed officer was in critical condition after being bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher, family members did not have details of his injuries. They say Sicknick had texted them Wednesday night to say that while he had been pepper-sprayed, he was in good spirits. The text arrived hours after a mob's assault on the Capitol had left more than 50 officers injured and five people dead.

"He texted me last night and said, 'I got pepper-sprayed twice,' and he was in good shape," said Ken Sicknick, his brother, as the family drove toward Washington. "Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR."

But the day after that text exchange, the family got word that Brian Sicknick had a blood clot and had had a stroke; a respirator was keeping him alive.

"We weren't expecting it," his brother said.

As apparently premature news of Sicknick's death spread in law enforcement circles, the U.S. Capitol Police Department remained silent, including no response to an early request for confirmation from ProPublica on Thursday evening. The family learned from reporter phone calls that something was wrong.

"We have not gotten any calls," Ken Sicknick said when first contacted. Brian Sicknick was the youngest of three siblings, all boys. "We're kind of overwhelmed right now. You guys are getting reports of his death before I even got anything."

Nearly an hour later, the department issued a statement rebutting news reports that an officer had died. The department finally reported that Sicknick had died at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, adding that this was the result of injuries sustained during the attack the previous day.

By the time family members reached the hospital, they say, Sicknick was dead.

In separate interviews with ProPublica, family members say they are still waiting to learn exactly what happened. They described Sicknick as the kindest of the three siblings. They said he went to a technical school to study electronics but ditched it to follow his dream of becoming a police officer. They couldn't confirm the time of death.

The family's grief and confusion comes amid serious questions about how a secretive police department that is well-funded and highly trained at quelling violent protests and protecting members of Congress had failed to protect one of its own from an attack that had been planned out in plain sight.

In a press release, the department said: "The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick's family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague."

The Sicknick family issued its own press release Friday, urging the public and reporters to not politicize Sicknick's death.

"Please honor Brian's life and service and respect our privacy while we move forward in doing the same. Brian is a hero and that is what we would like people to remember," the statement said.

Still in shock, one family member, who agreed to talk but asked not to be named, said Sicknick had sometimes expressed frustrations with his job.

"Occasionally he would mention that they were very understaffed and they worked a lot of hours," the family member said. "And morale could be low."

Larry Schaefer, who spent 34 years on the force before retiring last year and knew Sicknick, said Wednesday's breach of the Capitol was unfathomable until he saw it on his TV screen.

"We handle demonstrations on a regular basis," Schaefer said. "We're prepared for this kind of stuff. We hold people back in a perimeter. We're set up for mass arrests, to load buses of people away."

He said he blames department leaders for the tragedy. Under pressure from congressional leaders, Chief Steven Sund of the Capitol Police and two other security officials have resigned.

After Sicknick struggled to find a policing job early on, his family said, in 1997 he joined the New Jersey National Guard "as a means to that end." He was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was honorably discharged in 2003, according to a Guard spokesman.

He subsequently trained to be a Capitol Police officer, graduating in 2008. The family came down to see the graduation ceremony, in "one of those big fancy buildings," one family member said.

One of his first assignments was working the inauguration of former President Barack Obama, a moment that filled Sicknick and the family with pride.

Twelve years later, Sicknick was a member of the department's First Responder Unit when Trump, in the final days of a presidency that fomented anger and division, held a rally that precipitated the Capitol attack.

In a press release Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said, "The violent and deadly act of insurrection targeting the Capitol, our temple of American Democracy, and its workers was a profound tragedy and stain on our nation's history."

"I send our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Officer Brian Sicknick," Pelosi said. "The perpetrators of Officer Sicknick's death must be brought to justice."

After a forced hiatus from Twitter, Trump returned to his favorite platform on Friday to honor his supporters, whom he called "patriots," and to announce he will not attend the inauguration of Joe Biden.

In a statement, Trump's deputy press secretary Judd Deere said: "Anytime a member of law enforcement dies in the line of duty it is a solemn reminder to us all that they run toward danger to maintain peace. The President and the entire Administration extend our prayers to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick's family as we all grieve the loss of this American hero."

Mollie Simon contributed reporting.