'That Was Probably the Flag They Hit Me With': Officer Slams Use of 1/6 Flag at GOP Rally

A Capitol police sergeant on Saturday said that an American flag that attendees at a Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate rally pledged their allegiance to was "probably the flag that they hit me with" during the deadly January 6 riot.

During an appearance on CNN with host Jim Acosta, Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said that pledging allegiance to a flag that was carried during the Capitol attack is a "total disgrace."

Gonell's comments came after the host of the "Take Back Virginia Rally" in Henrico County called someone who held the flag—which reportedly was at the January 6 attack—to come to the stage and asked the crowd to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The rally was held on Wednesday to support Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin in his bid to become Virginia's next governor ahead of the November elections.

At the rally last night for GOP VA Gov candidate Glenn Youngkin, they said the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ to a flag that was carried during the insurrection on Jan 6, as if it was sacred or something. pic.twitter.com/NGEaFFAvdF

— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) October 14, 2021

Gonell said on Saturday that rioters during the insurrection "threw the flag on the floor and then they wanted us [Capitol police] to pick that up and they got angry about it."

Though Youngkin didn't attend the rally that was held to support him, he said on Wednesday that if the flag at the rally was the one that was flown during the insurrection "then we shouldn't pledge allegiance to that flag. There is no place for violence. None in America today."

Here’s the video. @GlennYoungkin “If that is the case, then we shouldn’t pledge allegiance to that flag…. There is no place for violence, none, none, in America today.” @wusa9 @CBSNews @cnn @TerryMcAuliffe pic.twitter.com/7jHgX8XvTT

— Bruce Leshan (@BruceLeshan) October 14, 2021

"While I had no role in last night's event, I have heard about it from many people in the media today. It is weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6," Youngkin also said in a statement to Newsweek.

Gonell called the celebration "very disappointing" and noted that attendees should have recognized police officers instead of "celebrating this individual [rioter] who committed an attack on the Capitol."

"The way that they were using the flag is as if they did something good," he added. "It's beyond comprehension that they are celebrating something detrimental to the country."

The pledge to that particular flag at the rally was condemned by others as well including Democratic nominee for Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe.

He said that the rally "celebrating the insurrection against our country was unconscionable."

This is not who we are as Virginians. Tonight’s Donald Trump rally for Glenn Youngkin celebrating the insurrection against our country was unconscionable. Pledging allegiance to a flag that was at the deadly riot. Just watch. pic.twitter.com/VpRLSmF8zH

— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) October 14, 2021

Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who is on the January 6 House committee, also denounced the rally pledge, saying that people should "boo" anyone who has flown that flag during the insurrection and "say the pledge to a flag that didn't fly that day."

During an appearance on CNN on Sunday, Kinzinger said that he was "disgusted" when he learned about the incident.

Capitol officer condemns flag at GOP rally
Capitol police sergeant condemns the American flag that attendees pledge allegiance to at the rally held to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, because it reportedly was the one flown on January 6 Capitol attack. Above, Youngkin speaks during a “Parents Matter GOTV Rally” October 13 in Culpeper, Virginia. Youngkin is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffee for governor in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images