Lawmakers Promise Investigation, Firings of Capitol Police Following InsurrectionJanuary 7, 2021
Democratic lawmakers are demanding answers from the Capitol Police after it failed to stop a mob of Trump supporters from taking control of large parts of the Capitol on Wednesday, an invasion that resulted in lives lost and successfully shut down Congress for several hours.
The Democratic lawmakers, whose party is set to take over the White House and both chambers of Congress, are promising to investigate the police force’s failures — and to fire those responsible.
Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who heads the Congressional panel that oversees Capitol Police funding, told reporters “there were some strategic mistakes from the very beginning” and promised that the police officers responsible would be fired.
“I think it’s pretty clear that there’s going to be a number of people who are going to be without employment very, very soon,” Ryan said, according to Politico, “because this is an embarrassment.”
Ryan added, “You can bet your ass that we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund defended his officers in a statement issued Thursday, saying, “United States Capitol Police (USCP) officers and our law enforcement partners responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building.” Sund added, “The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake — these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior.”
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Sund said pipe bombs were reported in vicinity of both the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee headquarters. He confirmed Capitol Police had recovered and disabled “hazardous” devices at both locations and turned them over the to FBI.
But videos of Capitol Police officers spread on social media show incidents of an uneven, ineffectual response to the mob as the Trump supporters quickly overpowered Capitol Police as they successfully breached protective barriers.
One viral video actually appeared to show police opening a fencing barrier to allow the mob to advance toward the Capitol. It’s unclear who made the decision to do so or why. “I have no idea why that would be permissible,” Ryan said. “That’s unacceptable… We’ll be looking at all of that.”
In another video from Wednesday, a police officer appears to take a selfie with a Trump supporter after they gained access to the Capitol, raising even more questions. As Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said, “Would you take a selfie with someone who was robbing a bank? I can’t imagine if a couple of thousand of [Black Lives Matters] protesters had descended on the Capitol… that there would be 13 people arrested.”
Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), a former police chief, said in an interview with MSNBC that Capitol Police “were not prepared for today. I certainly thought that we would have had a stronger show of force, that there would have been steps taken in the very beginning to make sure that there was a designated area for the protesters in a safe distance from the Capitol.″
She continued, “It did not seem that they had a clear operational plan to really deal with” the mob that invaded what should be one of the country’s most protected and secure buildings.
Ryan also noted the discrepancy between how police treated the violent, pro-Trump mob compared to how police treat peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters. “If Black people were storming the Capitol, they would have been treated so much differently than they were today,” Ryan said. “I don’t think there’s any question that communities of color would have been handled much, much differently.”
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