International Policy Digest

Emerging Voices /10 Jan 2021
01.10.21

Inside of ‘A Dark Day in American History’: An Eye-Witness Shares his Account of the Madness on Capitol Hill

When Dan Moran and his wife, Sarah, traveled 14 hours from their home in Bowling Green, Missouri to Washington, D.C. on a bus with a small group, including elderly veterans, to attend President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Wednesday, January 6, they imagined that thousands of Trump supporters would join them to participate in a peaceful protest. Hours later, the Midwestern couple found themselves as spectators to “a dark day in American history,” as Dan Moran describes it.

The Morans were like thousands of diehard Trump supporters, who traveled to the nation’s capital to support their favorite president and protest the country’s presidential election results. They were expecting the protest they planned to participate in to be a peaceful march.

“At the conclusion of the (president’s) speech, we all began the march towards the Capitol. On the way over, everything seemed fine (with) no issues. Everyone seemed excited to be participating in one of the largest civil rights marches in history,” recalled Moran.

As Congress began entertaining challenges to the election certification, the lifelong conservative noticed something peculiar. He saw several men dressed in body armor and helmets strapped with large megaphones and some radio communication equipment.

“I thought little of it then, so I continued to lead the group (from Missouri) through the crowd upright to the foot of the Capitol,” said Moran.

A few protestors climbed over scaffolding and fencing to reach the front of the large, non-socially distanced crowd with very few masks on-hand. Once the group from Missouri arrived at the Capitol Reflecting Pool, the public had expanded and became noisy.

“We stayed in this spot for a good while, and what we saw was the people that had reached the platform on top of the scaffolding started announcing through their megaphones to ‘advance! Move up!’ The messages were then copied and announced again by nearly every person that had a megaphone scattered throughout the crowd,” said Moran.

Then, madness broke out.

“We saw bottles being thrown at the police on the other side of the barriers, and the people closest to the barricades seemed to be trying to push through. To our left, we saw one man climb the barricades and rush up the stairs on that side. He was immediately tackled to the ground by an officer stationed on that side and arrested,” recalled Moran.

The crowd became rowdier by chanting expletive-laden and pro-Trump phrases, such as “F**k Antifa,” “Stop the Steal,” and “Four More Years.” The unidentified men behind the megaphones continued to encourage the crowd to move up. Around this moment in time, the police did all they could to try to control the masses.

“At this time, the police started to use pepper spray and other things to keep the advancing protesters back,” said Moran. “Police also used some sort of ‘flash-bang’ devices to try and keep the protesters upfront from tearing down barricades and attempting to cross the walls.”

That didn’t work. At this time, the police realized they were outnumbered, and for the first time in 200-plus years, the United States Capitol was breached. The Joint Session of Congress was forced to be suspended. The vice-president was escorted out of the Senate Chamber by the Secret Service. Capitol Hill Police told Senators and Representatives to duck below their seats, grab gas masks, and pray.

Meanwhile, on the building’s exterior, protesters began to learn that the Capitol had been breached. That didn’t stop some people from continuing their quest of making their way up the steps of Constitution Avenue to be heard.

After learning about the news himself, Moran said that “at this point, the message being spread from atop the scaffolding was ‘Pence has betrayed us! They are traitors!’”

Once the group reached the grassland in front of the Capitol, Moran heard some gut-wrenching comments. “Some of the people who walked by us seemed to be debating whether or not to charge the Capitol, and others I heard seemed to be debating whether or not to go around to the other side of the Capitol where apparently the Capitol had already been breached,” said Moran.

After seeing a female protestor having an adverse reaction from pepper spray, Moran knew that it was time to head out as it was starting to be dangerous for his group’s older members. “My group at this point decided to leave the event because what started as a show of support for President Trump had been turned into a riot and attack on the Capitol and the police,” said Moran.

As they headed for the exits, Moran recalled how one of the protest leaders with a megaphone stopped him to ask where he was going. Minutes later, Moran’s group passed the FBI headquarters where they witnessed “a group of young men tying up a white cloth ‘doll’ to a pole, written across the headless ‘dolls’ chest was the word ‘Traitor.’”

Moran finally reached the D.C. Metro Station to head back to his hotel and saw “vans of what appeared to be police back up or possibly SWAT teams driving towards the Capitol and many other police cars just driving the streets.”

After taking a deep sigh of relief on the Metro’s platform, Moran witnessed more madness waiting to unfold. Moran’s wife, Sarah, recalled, “When we went down to board the subway, a group of five or six guys in black shirts with protective armor were heading up the stairs. One (I’m assuming the leader) said, ‘Oath Keepers hold up!’”

The Moran’s observed the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia organization, coordinate their gameplan to participate in the Capitol’s sacking. “Over his radio, (a) message came across that said ‘we have entered the Capitol,’” shared Moran.

On his way back to Missouri, Moran mentioned that he felt that he and his group did the right thing by heading away from the scene instead of getting closer to the Capitol. He shared no regrets regarding his decision to come to Washington to support President Trump in a respectful, peaceful matter.

“The people who attacked the Capitol building, Trump supporters or not – it doesn’t matter – I condemn all of their actions, and I hope that anyone who believes that it was acceptable will remember that an officer lost his life,” said Moran. “What happened to Back The Blue? And Blue Lives Matter?”