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Kennedy Center honoree Joan Baez forges an unlikely friendship with DC Police officer assaulted in Capitol Riots

DC Police Officer Mike Fanone was Baez's guest of honor at the ceremony after the singer reached out to the family in wake of the January 6 insurrection.

WASHINGTON — The ugliness of January 6 was only matched by the brutality of the mob that turned on law enforcement defending the US Capitol – including DC Police Officer Mike Fanone.

“I’ve got kids,” Fanone can be heard screaming on his body cam video, obtained by WUSA9 through a source. Prosecutors say Fanone suffered a concussion and heart attack at the hands of at least 5 separate attackers.

But Fanone now says from those dark moments he found support through an unexpected source. It came from iconic singer, songwriter, Kennedy Center Honors recipient Joan Baez.

“Well, after I'd heard ‘Thank you, (expletive) you for being here’ I knew that was my guy,” Baez said in a phone interview with WUSA9.

The reference was a response Fanone gave in an interview shortly after the siege on the Capitol when asked about rioters who pulled him from the mob after being assaulted.

“Thank you, but (expletive) you for being here,” Fanone said.

But it was the way Fanone reacted at the moment that struck Baez.

“My understanding from talking to her was that despite being out in the crowd and having my life threatened that I chose not to use deadly force,” Fanone said. “And, you know, I think that resonated with her.”

Credit: Mike Fanone
From right: DC Police Officer Mike Fanone, Sturgill Simpson, Joan Baez, Gabe Harris (Baez son)

The friendship was born when one of Fanone’s family member’s saw an online image of a painting Baez did of Fanone defending the Capitol.

“It was probably just a continuation of the complete shock of what had happened,” Baez said. “And, you know, a relief that I could do my little piece in relation to it.”

Fanone’s family reached out to a staff member at the art gallery to find out more about the piece and they were shocked when Baez asked to speak with the Fanone family.

That painting now sits in Fanone’s living room, a gift to the officer. When Baez came to D.C. for the taping of the Kennedy Center Honors, she made Fanone her guest of honor.

Credit: Rebecca Knier
Joan Baez's painting of DC Police Officer Mike Fanone Defending the US Capitol

“That was an incredibly humbling experience,” Fanone said. “Just interacting with somebody who really had such a tremendous influence on things like the civil rights movement and anti-violence advocacy.”

Baez, an activist who is no stranger to taking a stand, said her choice to have Fanone accompany her as a guest of honor was no accident.

“That was very calculated,” Baez said. “I wanted him to be seen. And, I wanted him to be, you know, partnered with a nonviolent activist.”

Ironically, the two spent part of their evening at the Kennedy Center guessing who the surprise musical guest would be to perform Baez’s music at the ceremony.

Fanone’s jaw dropped when one of his favorite musicians, Sturgill Simpson, walked on stage. In fact, it was Simpson’s music that Fanone says helped get him through some of his most difficult moments after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“To be able to like, share that with Joan Baez was a pretty amazing experience,” Fanone said. “And then I ended up meeting Sturgill Simpson. And now, you know, like, we've struck up a friendship.”

“I thought what an interesting combination,” Baez said, “A pacifist and a policeman. And, you know, a Country Western singer.”

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