Guest Post By Shawn Bradley Witzemann and Mel Hawley-CondemnedUSA
At roughly the same time former President Donald Trump was officially arrested in Miami, a Matt Gaetz in our nation’s capital.was hosted by Representative
“I sacrificed my freedom when I entered into the Capitol building on January 6th and in despair took my own life the night that I wrote this. Signed Matthew Perna,” she said.
Like many others who’ve been charged with federal crimes and threatened with years in prison for protesting peacefully that day, Matthew Perna believed he was doing the right thing.
“The 2020 presidential election was incredibly contentious,” Jeff Clark reminded all who were listening, “Many citizens in this country disagreed with mainstream media pronouncements that they should, in essence, sit down and shut up about the election and how it was conducted.”
Journalist Tayler Hanson testified that the crowd was mostly peaceful until agitation from police turned everything sour.
“When the first concussion grenade flew over my head and deep into the crowd, I noticed it hit children that were in the crowd. It hit elderly people; it hit women. And at that moment, the tone completely changed,” he explained.
Representative Troy Nehls concurred, calling January 6th “an epic law enforcement failure.”
Hansen’s testimony further exemplified that assessment — describing a situation where the crowd was repeatedly provoked and goaded into responding.
“That first initial grenade went by, and then it was just a barrage of grenades. I lost count. I had to put people out that were on fire. People had holes in their cheeks from rubber bullets that weren’t being violent. They were standing back,” he said, “That’s when the initial crowd was pushed even farther from the crowd surge. A man named Derrick Vargo was pushed off the side of the ledge as he was going up the wall. And that caused almost a stampede of sorts.”
Considering his first-hand experiences from outside the Capitol — all the way to the Speaker Chamber doors where Ashli Babbitt was shot, Hansen remains shocked that he wasn’t called to testify before the January 6th Select Committee.
“I actually reached out multiple occasions, more times than I can count, because I was a witness to what I would argue, one of the most significant deaths in American history,” he explained to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and the rest of the panel, “I wasn’t investigated by MPD, not even interviewed by their homicide team, by the Capitol Police. When the FBI talked to me, they had no interest in what happened to Ashley Babbitt. All they wanted to talk about was John Sullivan and my connection to him, which was, you know, a very peculiar thing. And they tried to set up an in-person meeting with me. And of course, it wasn’t what it was supposed to be. They were trying to entrap me. I had two phones hacked and basically completely wiped.”
Representative Nehls expressed his support for bringing Lt. Michael Leroy Byrd to justice, pointing out that whatever minimal investigation occurred — it was flawed from the very beginning.
“I believe Ashli Babbitt was murdered that day. Now you say, well, how could you say that? I said, well, I’m a sheriff. I’ve had deputies shoot and kill people. I’ve had my own deputies shot killed. The point is I know a little bit about use of force,” he said. “What disturbed me about that investigation into Lieutenant Byrd is it never went to a grand jury. If you wanna have the vote of confidence of the American people send every law enforcement shooting justified, questionable, whatever, send it to a grand jury.”
Unfortunately, bad behavior by police continues to be ignored while everyday Americans suffer at the hands of the DOJ — prosecuted for crimes for attempting to render aid that day.
“I am compelled to bring attention to the violation and a denial of basic rights experienced by individuals involved in this event, including my husband, Ronald Colton McAbee, who served as a law enforcement officer for seven years,” Sarah McAbee explained, “On August 17th, 2021, our home was raided by the FBI resulting in seizure of several items, including our front porch flag. Since then, Colton has been moved seven times, facing the unsettling reality of being in six different facilities.”
She continued to describe the dire situation faced by January 6th prisoners as they become lost in a prison system that is quickly becoming little more than a political gulag.
“These circumstances are not unique to Colton, but are rather common experience shared by the January 6th defendants,” she explained, “As a result, their fundamental, American, human, and God-given rights have been denied over a span of two years. These defendants have endured unjust treatment, including extended periods of time of solitary confinement, denial of haircuts, religious services, and visitation rights, both in person and video. It took 597 days before I was granted a mere 30 minute visit with Colton conducted behind glass. These examples exemplify the systematic denial of their basic right, which stands in stark contrast to the principles we hold dear as Americans.”
Geri Perna reminded everyone that justice must be served. “My nephew was extraordinary. He was honest and strong and defined by his love of all people. He should have never been pushed to the point of despair. He had no intention of going into the Capitol when he traveled to DC. In his mind, he was standing up for all of us. Matt believed we are still entitled to free speech in the United States of America and did not think expressing it would cost him his life,” she said.
While answering questions after the hearing had concluded, the House of Representatives’ focus needs to be set on appropriations.
“Our power here in the House is the power of the purse,” she explained, “Some of our colleagues are going to want us to just fund the Department of Justice with no ramifications whatsoever, but we completely disagree with that and we’ll be fighting that all the way.”
With so many families and lives destroyed by what Greene and others recognize as a politically weaponized Department of Justice — hellbent on putting “election deniers” and their “preferred candidate” behind bars — it is clear that the events of January 6th will continue to impact American lives.
“Nothing I do will ever bring Matthew Perna back,” Geri Perna explained while wiping away tears, “I have absolutely nothing to gain by being here today, but I will spend the rest of my life ensuring that he has never forgotten. Thank you for having me.”
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