Pelosi introduces bill to award Capitol Police with congressional gold medals

FILE PHOTO: A hearse leaves the Capitol with the cremated remains of U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, in Washington, DC, U.S, February 3, 2021. Alex Brandon/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced legislation on Thursday to award congressional gold medals to the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington’s police force for protecting the Capitol on Jan. 6 against an assault by rioters.

That day, hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to prevent the certification of the presidential election victory of Democrat Joe Biden.

Lawmakers, including Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, were forced to flee the violence for hours. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the mayhem, while two other officers who responded to the attack died afterward. Dozens of police officers were injured amid clashes with the rioters.

“We have been reminded of the extraordinary valor of the United States Capitol Police, the men and women who risked and gave their lives to save ours, becoming martyrs for our democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Pelosi has asked all lawmakers to co-sponsor the bill. The legislation would create three congressional gold medals to be given to the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department as well as to the Smithsonian Institution for display and research purposes.

“To have our police officers’ bravery acknowledged at a time when they’re experiencing tremendous emotions and exhaustion is a gift. We have too many heroes to count and we are humbled Congress may recognize them in this way,” Yogananda Pittman, acting U.S. Capitol Police chief, said in a statement.

Pittman noted the announcement came as Capitol Police were protecting the Capitol during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. Senators are weighing whether to convict the former president of incitement to insurrection for a fiery speech urging supporters at a rally to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” as Congress convened to certify Biden’s victory.

The Metropolitan Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Peter Cooney