Joe Biden paid his respects at the US Capitol on Tuesday night to the police officer killed by the violent mob of Donald Trump supporters who staged the insurrection on Congress on 6 January.
The remains of Brian Sicknick, 42, are lying in honor in the Capitol’s towering central rotunda where rioters had rampaged on the day, ahead of a ceremony for the fallen officer on Wednesday.
Sicknick was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher as the mass of rioters, egged on by Trump at a rally near the White House immediately prior, swarmed into the Capitol four weeks ago. He later collapsed and died in hospital.
The ceremony for Sicknick, a former member of the National Guard whose ashes will be buried at Arlington National Ceremony, comes less than a week before the impeachment trial of Trump is due to begin.
Prosecutors from the House of Representatives have accused Trump of creating a “powder keg” among his supporters which eventually led to the insurrection which caused Sicknick’s death, accusing him of being “singularly responsible” for inciting the insurrection.
After losing the presidential election Trump repeatedly made false accusations of widespread voter fraud, before holding the rally on 6 January as electors met in both chambers of the US Congress in Washington DC to confirm Joe Biden’s victory.
There, Trump encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell” and urged them to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.
On Wednesday hundreds of congressional staff signed a letter to the US Senate, urging them to convict Trump.
Five people, including Sicknick, died in the 6 January riot, as Trump’s supporters broke into the building and threatened violence against members of Congress. A reported 60 Capitol police officers were injured.
Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, arrived at the Capitol late on Tuesday night, as the viewing ceremony for Sicknick began.
The president briefly placed his hand on a wooden box containing Sicknick’s ashes, Associated Press reported, before saying a prayer and sadly shaking his head as he observed a memorial wreath nearby. Sicknick’s ashes stood next to a tri-folded American flag in a polished wooden case.
Nanci Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the most senior Democrats in the House and Senate, announced in late January that Sicknick would lie in honor, a procedure usually reserved for government leaders.
Sicknick’s actions on 6 January “helped save lives, defend the temple of our democracy and ensure that the Congress was not diverted from our duty to the Constitution,” Pelosi and Schumer said.