“It’s all talk and no action,” Garza said of Republican senators who have cast themselves as champions of police officers but voted against the measure. “Clearly they’re not backing the blue.”
Officer Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted members of the pro-Trump mob during the insurrection, the District’s chief medical examiner ruled last month. In early February, Sicknick, who grew up in New Jersey, was honored at the U.S. Capitol, with President Biden, Vice President Harris and congressional leaders paying their respects. His remains were interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Nearly 140 officers were assaulted during the attack, as they faced rioters armed with ax handles, bats, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks and other weapons, authorities said.
On Thursday, after more than four months spent grieving in private, Garza and Gladys Sicknick made the rounds on Capitol Hill, meeting in person with more than a dozen Republican senators and lobbying others by phone or in meetings with staff. Their message: Support an independent commission to investigate the events surrounding the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
Their Friday appearance on CNN marked their first foray onto a national television stage in the wake of Sicknick’s death.
Gladys Sicknick said that during some of the meetings with senators on Thursday, “they went through their motions, but you can tell that underneath they were being nice to us.”
“They were very charming, and they knew what they were doing,” she said, without naming specific senators. “They knew how to talk to us. But we kind of held back. It was just — it was tense. And we just made believe, you know, everything was fine. And we were very nice to them for the most part. … We knew they weren’t sincere. They weren’t sincere.”
Garza, who is a psychotherapist, echoed Sicknick, saying that many of the meetings were “tense.”
She also noted the “ripple effect of trauma that’s still continuing today” in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack.
“Many officers are struggling with PTSD … I work with people all the time that struggle with PTSD, so I know how devastating and debilitating it can be,” she said. “And then it’s the family members that are struggling to pick up the pieces of that daily.”
In opposing the legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that the probe was “extraneous” and would not shed light on what happened Jan. 6, while others in the GOP saw it as a Democratic-driven, endless pursuit of former president Donald Trump.
But Garza and Sicknick argued Friday that, in opposing the formation of a commission to ensure such an attack never happens again, Republican senators are making the country less safe.
“For them to vote ‘no’ — it’s not protecting law enforcement,” Garza said. “And more importantly, it’s not protecting our democracy.”
Garza also said she knew she made a lot of Republican senators “uncomfortable” on Thursday with their conversations but was determined to be “real” about what happened. She said many of them tried to explain their opposition to the commission as not wanting to play into partisan politics, which Garza said was “baloney,” citing an amendment Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) had put in the bill to make staffing bipartisan.
“I think they just don’t want to do the right thing,” she told Tapper.
In her meeting with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who has repeatedly played down the severity of what happened on Jan. 6 and said he was not afraid of the rioters, Garza told him bluntly that he got lucky that day. She pointed out that if the two pipe bombs that were found at Democratic and Republican national committee headquarters that day had detonated, the situation could have been completely different.
“Law enforcement resources would have been diverted and who knows what would have happened?” Garza said. “So, those who want to run with this narrative that it was, you know, ‘it was a tourists’ day’ and ‘I didn’t feel threatened’ -- I mean, they got lucky. That’s the truth of it.”
Garza criticized those who brushed aside concerns about domestic terrorism as living in “a magical thought process that ‘nothing is ever going to happen to me.’”
Both Garza and Gladys Sicknick also shared more details about Brian Sicknick’s final hours, saying video footage that has been released of him fighting the pro-Trump mob show only a small part of the struggle and injuries he and other officers faced that day.
Gladys Sicknick said her son had been texting his friends on the police force throughout the day asking if they were okay.
“I can’t believe that I have a child that’s going to be in the history books for all the wrong reasons, because he was such a good person and he was so good at his job,” Sicknick said.
She has since met with many of the officers he worked with, whom she described as “a family” that is “absolutely devastated” about what happened.
“All these other people that are saying that it was no big deal: They went home that night to have dinner with their families,” Sicknick said, referring to GOP lawmakers who have played down the insurrection. “And then, did they watch television to see what happened? And they didn’t feel anything? It’s amazing to me.”