KUOW - Where Was Security When A Pro-Trump Mob Stormed The Capitol?

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In a day full of shocking images, the most shocking thing was that the mob of President Trump's supporters poured into the US Capitol with relative ease.

The number of pro-Trump banners by militants far exceeded them and quickly overwhelmed the U.S. Capitol police. They rushed up the steps, smashed windows, broke into the Senate and occupied the office, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. office.

It took the police several hours to drive them away, and the damage caused was huge. According to the police, four people died, including a woman who was shot by a congressional policeman, and three died in the Capitol because of an unspecified “medical emergency”. More than 50 people were arrested and at least a dozen policemen were injured. The police confiscated guns, bombs and Molotov cocktails.

With so many police and security agencies in Washington, why are so few resources deployed in advance?

Violence is considered an obvious possibility. This is the third major rally in recent weeks to support President Trump's fictitious claim that the presidential election was rigged. The most recent explosion in December included a street fight in which several people were stabbed.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Tuesday that the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department will become the lead agency and will coordinate with the Capitol Police Department, the U.S. Park Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service.

Bowser wrote in an earlier letter to the U.S. Department of Justice: "To be clear, the District of Columbia does not require other federal law enforcement officers and discourages any other deployments without prior notice to the MPD. There is no such plan, please notify MPD immediately." Zhou.

Bowser requested and provided limited troops to the DC National Guard. They number 340, and although they are not armed, their job is to help traffic flow, not law enforcement, which will be handled by the DC police.

But when the mob left Trump's rally near the White House and soon reached the west side of the Capitol, it soon became clear that there was not enough security to stop them.

NPR's Hannah Allam said: "We saw a large number of obsessives walking down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol."

She added: “We followed the crowd and went straight to Capitol Hill. Upon reaching the inauguration, scaffolding had been set up.” “But in terms of protection, all we really saw were some mesh barriers, some metal fences and a small part of Capitol Police. . We saw that they were quickly submerged."

In the video shot inside the Capitol, a lone policeman tried to stop the mob with a baton. But he finally flinched until he found other colleagues, although they were still not many.

Disturbing precedent

Last summer, demonstrators walked on the street near the White House to protest the death of George Floyd of Minneapolis and other incidents of police abuse, which obviously affected Bowser's security attitude.

At the time, President Trump called for a vigorous display of force, including active military personnel deployed on the streets of the capital. When Pentagon officials finally rejected Trump's request, federal security forces were also called in, including guards from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, who did not wear identification tags.

The reaction is generally considered to be heavy, including security forces expelling peaceful demonstrators to clear Trump’s hope of taking pictures in a church near the White House. Bowser wanted to avoid a similar situation this time, especially for federal forces that are not accountable to the District of Columbia government.

It was not until the National Guard that the crisis passed on Wednesday evening that the DC National Guard of approximately 1,100 people was mobilized. Guard members and other law enforcement officers from Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey also joined them.

The District of Columbia is known for its law enforcement agency territory, and this was reflected in the four agencies involved in security on Wednesday. MPD has jurisdiction on city streets; the Oval Park police where Trump rally is located; the Secret Service near the White House; and the Congressional police on the Capitol.

Coming weeks

Bowser imposed a curfew and declared a public emergency, which will last 15 days until the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20.

Due to the pandemic, gatherings at Biden’s inauguration will be very small, so the need for security personnel is reduced. Nonetheless, security officials are expected to assume too much rather than too little security in the next two weeks.

At the same time, some members of Congress asked for an accounting of what happened on Wednesday.

House of Representatives Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said: "There should be no one near the Capitol." "Those are illegal activities, and those people should be arrested immediately."

When the Senate resumed its meeting on Wednesday night, Senator Cory Booker, the Democratic Party of New Jersey, observed that the last time the Capitol was hit by such an attack was in 1814 when British troops set fire.

Greg Myre is a national security reporter for NPR. Follow him @gregmyre1. [Copyright 2021 NPR]

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