Police Reaction to the Capitol Insurrection

By: Ranya Merchant — International and National News Editor

While rioters stormed the Capitol Building on January 6, law enforcement struggled to contain the violence. 

The rioters were seen roaming freely through halls, vandalizing statues, and stealing government files with little consequences. Only 14 rioters were identified and arrested on the night of the attack, despite there being thousands of people in attendance. Images and videos of capitol police officers appearing helpless to the gigantic crowd have circulated in the media leading many to question the lack of preparation. 

“I think the Capitol Police will and should really do a review here of what went wrong and what they need to do to be sure nothing like that could happen again,” said Missouri senator Roy Blunt. 

“How they were not ready for this today, I have no idea,” said former D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey. “They were overwhelmed; they did not have the resources. You have to be able to protect the Capitol,” he added. 

Pentagon officials have said that the Capitol Police had turned down an offer for additional National Guard troops offered 3 days prior to the storming and only called with an emergency request after it was “too late” to get soldiers to see the scene right away.

Kenneth P. Rapuano, a high ranking pentagon worker says the Defense Department “engaged repeatedly” with the Capitol Police staff, but was told their military assistance was “not required.”

Michael Chertoff, a Homeland Security secretary in the George W. Bush administration, questions why Wednesday’s rallies were not designated a National Special Security Event, which would have allowed the Secret Service to take the lead on the response.

The Capitol Police did not request assistance from the Homeland Security Department until 2:30 p.m., according to officials.

“The failure was the Capitol Police. They would have to be the requesting agency. But they were late in doing it,” said Chertoff. “It wasn’t a surprise attack, all you had to do was read the newspaper and see that the president was telling people to go wild. A 5-year-old would know this would be a center of focus here,” he added. 

This attack has come only months after the police have beat, tear-gassed, arrested, and shot peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in several states. Observers have been completely appalled by the difference in reaction to white rioters and people of color. 

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” said President Joe Biden. “We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable,” he added.

“Seeing the national guard being rolled out for a protest in Boston Common compared with the lack of preparation that we saw—it should have been planned better to avoid that,” said Sharon High School social studies teacher Ms. Hannah Cohen.

Some examples of officers appearing complacent or even in support of the mob include officers taking selfies with rioters, opening barricades, escorting rioters out, and even opening doors to the building. In fact, nearly 30 sworn members of U.S. law enforcement agencies have been identified as attendees of the Trump rally on January 6 that sparked the attack. Since then, 2 officers have been suspended and around 20 others are being investigated for involvement in the riots. 

Ohio representative, Tim Ryan, said that he witnessed a capitol police officer wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat as he directed people around the building. 

“I wasn’t surprised at the law enforcement being unable to hold a line in the face of such a large mob, but I was deeply disturbed by the officers who took selfies or who seemed to be opening doors and gates for the insurrectionists,” said Cohen.

image from ajc.com

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