Washington, D.C., officials have joined U.S. lawmakers in calling for an investigation of the police force that protects the Capitol, while offering praise for their actions, after Wednesday’s storming of the seat of the country’s legislative branch by a mob of pro-Trump protesters.
Video shared on social media and by news organizations shows Capitol Police officers overwhelmed by the vastly larger crowds pushing past waist-high barricades and evading officers who failed to halt their progress. Other participants scaled walls and smashed windows to get inside.
Other video posted to social media showed some Capitol Police officers opening barricades for Trump backers and even taking pictures with them inside the building.
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut took to Twitter to call for a full investigation of how security was breached so quickly. Murphy is the ranking Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police and is likely to chair the panel in the new Congress.
In a statement Thursday, Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund defended the force’s actions, saying they “responded valiantly” when faced by thousands who stormed the building. He said officers were attacked by elements of the mob wielding metal pipes, chemical irritants, and other weapons. He said several officers were hospitalized with serious injuries.
Sund said they had a “robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities.” But, he added, what occurred was “criminal riotous behavior.”
At a news conference Thursday, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser described the police effort as a failure. She said, “Obviously it was a failure, or you would not have police lines breached and people entering the building by breaking windows.” She said there needs to be an understanding of why these failures occurred.
She called the siege on the capitol “textbook terrorism,” and questioned why the response by federal security officials was not “nearly as strong” as the response to Black Lives Matter protests for racial equality.
Bowser said she is issuing an emergency order that will last through January 21, the day after the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. The order allows city officials to “implement orders as they see fit” to protect people and property in the District of Columbia, such as curfews or altering of business hours.
At the same news conference, U.S. Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said a two-meter unscalable fence will be erected around the Capitol and remain for at least 30 days.
Washington Police say 68 people had been arrested in relation to the storming of the Capitol.
Voice of America – English