National Guard Absent During Capitol Hill Riots, Blame Shifting Occurs
Photo by Alex Gakos via Shutterstock
As many have asked why the National Guard was absent during the riots at the U.S. Capitol, local D.C. officials and Federal law enforcement authorities seek to shift blame.
The Associated Press reported that three days prior to the Pro-Trump riots, the Pentagon offered to send in National Guard manpower as well as FBI agents but Capitol Police refused the offer, according to senior defense officials.
The former chief of U.S. Capitol Police, Steven Sund, who resigned after the riot, refuted the notion that the Capitol Police were responsible for National Guard absence, and claimed that security officials in Congress turned down his requests for Federal defense assistance in the days preceding the attacks.
Sund also said that the Capitol Police “had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities,” but, “these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior.”
Sund told the Washington Post that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, who also resigned after the incident, did not think it would look good if the National Guard was present.
Senior Army Official Lieutenant General Walter E. Piatt also expressed the same sentiment, reportedly telling the Washington Post, “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background.”
The National Guard’s absence for the recent Pro-Trump riot drew criticism from some who claimed that there was a double standard in how Federal officials handled this riot in comparison with the protests against police brutality and racial injustice from last summer, where law enforcement utilized tear gas and rubber bullets to quell the demonstrations.
“Had it been people who look like me, had it been the same amount of people, but had they been Black and brown, we wouldn’t have made it up those steps,” U.S. Representative Cori Bush said.
Vice President elect Kamala Harris commented on the alleged discrepancy and said, “We witnessed two systems of justice when we saw one that let extremists storm the United States Capitol and another that released tear gas on peaceful protesters last summer.”
Sund commended officers for their handling of the recent riot, 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,” and “the actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced.”
Following the riot, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was critical of the police response, saying, “Obviously it was a failure or you would not have had police lines breached and people enter the Capitol building by breaking windows and terrorizing the people, the members of Congress, who were doing a very sacred constitutional requirement of their job.”
In the letter, Bowser said, “As the law enforcement agency charged with protecting residents and visitors throughout the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department is prepared for this week’s First Amendment activities,” and, “To be clear, the District of Columbia is not requesting other federal law enforcement personnel and discourages any additional deployment.”
As a result of the riots, a 7-foot fence will be erected along the perimeter of the Capitol for at least 30 days. The Capitol Police also said that they are “conducting a thorough review of this incident, security planning and policies and procedures.”