He’s been a U.S. Capitol Police officer for a decade. He served in Iraq. He also might’ve saved the lives of dozens of elected officials.
Video of Eugene Goodman facing an angry, white mob of President Donald Trump followers went viral and became the dominant topic of social media. Footage taken from the HuffPost website shows Goodman running up the stairs inside the U.S. Capitol Building and being followed by insurrectionists who were looking to attack elected officials and vandalize their offices.
Goodman simultaneously led the group to the right side up the stairs away from the unsecured Senate chamber doors on the left. He eventually led them to an area where other Capitol officers could de-escalate the situation.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), chair of the Democratic Caucus, remarked that not only did he protect elected officials like him, he also protected the experiment of America as well.
“Officer Goodman is nothing less than an American hero,” said Jeffries in a statement to the AmNews. “Through quick thinking and brave action, he not only defended members of Congress from a violent mob, he also defended our democracy. Today, I lift him up and thank him for his service.”
The AmNews attempted to contact Goodman and the United States Capitol Police Labor Committee for an interview, but didn’t get a response.
Goodman joins the ranks of security guard Frank Willis, the man who notified authorities about a burglary at The Watergate Hotel, which eventually led to the demise and resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974 and Crispus Attucks, the biracial Black man labeled by many as the first casualty in the American Revolutionary War.
According to a U.S. Army spokesperson, the 40-year-old capitol officer served between 2002 and 2006 including one year as part of the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. Goodman’s earned multiple awards for his service including a combat infantryman badge.
Retired New York Police Department Detective and Director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance Marquez Claxton said that Goodman demonstrated exactly how a police officer should handle a large crowd fueled with anger.
“He demonstrated rare courage and uncommon valor,” Claxton told the AmNews. “His actions, in the face of a murderous mob, showed how a true professional police officer can operate clear minded in the midst of chaos and can show amazing restraint in the face of physical danger if you operate with a focus on the preservation of human life. His actions were selfless and honorable.”
As of the beginning of this week, authorities had arrested 120 people for storming the U.S. Capitol. Some carried the Confederate flag inside the building.
When compared to the deployment of the U.S. National Guard for Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests and when compared to the more than 150-plus women who were arrested during the protests outside of U.S. Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings, many questioned and continue to question whether or not officers on the inside were some of the insurrectionists as well.
Goodman has proven that he isn’t one of those.
Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump suggested that incoming President Joe Biden start his tenure with a nod to the capitol officer.
“Eugene Goodman deserves the Medal of Valor!” said Crump on Twitter. “He could have stepped aside and let Trump insurgents get to the Senate chamber while senators were still there. Instead, this heroic officer got them to follow him the other direction, giving lawmakers time to escape!”
Images of makeshift guillotines and nooses would rattle any Black American who understands the history of its people. Some people also remember the resolve Black people showed back then when they were in imminent danger. Goodman is another case of Black Americans fighting back while knowing the nature of the threat.
Some of the rioters had zip-tie handcuffs with them when they stormed the building. Goodman’s actions prevented a possible massacre of democratically-elected politicians.
The NAACP and former Republican Chairperson Michael Steele kept it simple on social media.
“Thank You Eugene Goodman!” stated NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson on Twitter.
“Thank You,” said Steele.