This policeman defended the Capitol on January 6. Now he paints to remember

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The most popular watercolor on Winston Pingeon’s Instagram account is a rare self-portrait. He stands in the middle of New Jersey Avenue at night, the United States Capitol illuminated brightly right behind him, the nation’s flag fluttering just above his right shoulder. The artist is dressed in black as he holds the tools of his trade – a baton and a helmet – by his side and confronts the viewer with pained blue eyes.

“Self-portrait II” depicts Pfc. Pingeon, United States Capitol Police, late on the night of January 6, 2021, hours after a horde of self-proclaimed patriots stormed the Capitol he has sworn to protect. Pingeon spent most of the day on the west facade of the building, receiving punches in the face. “I was run over, beaten and hit by the crowd. And then, when I was inside the building, I was sprayed with pepper, ”he told CQ Roll Call. “It was basically hand-to-hand combat for almost four hours.”

In some ways, Pingeon is just like any other Capitol Hill police officer. He always wanted to be a cop – he liked the idea of ​​helping people and didn’t like the idea of ​​sitting behind a desk all day – went to college in Washington, interned for various law enforcement agencies and chose the Capitol Police because of its mix of training opportunities and good benefits. Like most of his peers, he’s still angry with the 6, still in disbelief that this has happened, struggling to find the words to describe what it was or what it feels like to protect some members of Congress who are now downplaying the violence of the day.

“It was even hard to understand or imagine what was going on, even then, even though it literally hits me in the face – it’s just not something that I think myself or my colleagues never imagined would actually have taken place, ”Pingeon said.

“It was just a devastating day for me, for the Capitol Police and for our country,” he added. “It’s just sad that this has happened and some people have already forgotten about it… or want to.”


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