Three days before supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Congress, the Pentagon asked Capitol Police if they needed National Guard personnel. And as the mob marched into the building on Wednesday, Justice Department officials reached out to offer FBI agents. The police rejection on both occasions, according to senior defense officials and two people familiar with the matter.
Despite warnings of a possible insurrection and enough resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police only conducted plans for a demonstration.
Still disgruntled by the uproar that ensued after the authorities’ violent response to protests in June last year near the White House, the agents also intended to avoid giving any indication that the federal government was deploying police. federal or National Guard soldiers to stand up to Americans.
Bars that arrive late, surround this Thursday the Capitol. Photo: AP
The result was that the federal Capitol was taken over Wednesday, and elements of a law enforcement agency with a large operating budget and extensive experience in high-security events that protect legislators were overwhelmed, in the eyes of the world. whole. Four protesters died, including a woman who was shot inside the building. And this Friday a policeman died.
The riots and lack of control have raised strong questions about security on Capitol Hill for future events. Events on Wednesday also raised concerns about the treatment of Trump supporters, most of whom they were white and were allowed to stay inside the building for hours, while black or Latino protesters who protested last year against police brutality faced a police presence much stronger and more aggressive.
“This was a failure of imagination and leadership, ” said Art Acevedo, the Houston Police Chief, whose department responded to several large protests last year after George Floyd’s death.” The Capitol Police must do a better job.
Police officers guard a fenced Congress. Photo: AP
Acevedo said he has attended events on Capitol Hill to honor murdered police officers who had higher fences and a greater police presence than he saw in videos Wednesday.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said that as the unrest unfolded, it became clear that the Capitol police were outgunned. But he noted that a contingency plan had not been prepared in advance for what security forces could do in the event of a problem on Capitol Hill, as help from the Defense Department was refused.
“They have to ask us, that request has to come to us,” McCarthy said.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, under pressure from lawmakers, was forced to give up. Senator Chuck Schumer, who will soon be the Senate Majority Leader, requested and received the resignation of Upper House Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, effective immediately. The removal of the sergeant-at-arms from the House of Representatives is also expected.