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Tag: capitol police

White Supremacist Arrested With Bayonet And Machete Outside DNC Building

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Capitol Police on Monday announced they arrested a 44-year-old Californian man outside the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington, D.C., after he was found to be in possession of a machete and bayonet — both of which are illegal to possess in the District of Columbia.

Capitol Police pulled over Donald Craighead after noticing his vehicle did not have a license plate, but instead had a picture of an American flag where the license plate should be. It was then that they observed the bayonet and machete and subsequently arrested him for possession of prohibited weapons.

Craighead's car was decorated with white supremacist imagery — including a swastika — and he espoused white supremacist views as he responded to police officers.

This is the latest incident to occur near the Capitol following the January 6 insurrection, during which a mob of Donald Trump supporters violently broke into the building to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

In August, a man was arrested across the street from the Capitol after he threatened to blow up the building unless Biden resigned, parroting lies from Trump and other Republicans that the 2020 election was stolen.

The latest arrest comes as the Capitol and surrounding area are on high alert, with supporters of the insurrectionists arrested on January 6 planning a rally on September 18.

CNN reported that law enforcement officials are bracing for violence at the so-called "Justice for J6" rally, which is organized by former Trump campaign aide Matt Braynard.

The DNC headquarters is steps away from House office buildings on the Capitol complex.

The building was targeted on the day of the January 6 insurrection, as was the Republican National Committee's headquarters, which is even closer to the House-side office buildings. Police found pipe bombs near both buildings.

Police have still not found the suspect behind the placement of those explosive devices. The FBI released footage last week of someone they think is the person who planted the explosive devices.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump Over Jan. 6 ‘Acts Of Terrorism’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Donald Trump is being sued by a group of seven Capitol Police officers for his role in the January 6 insurrection in what is being called the "most expansive civil effort to date" to hold the former president and his associates and allies accountable.

The lawsuit accuses Trump "and nearly 20 members of far-right extremist groups and political organizations of a plot to disrupt the peaceful transition of power during the Capitol riot on January 6," and implicates "members of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers militia and Trump associates like Roger J. Stone Jr.," The New York Times reports.

Five of the seven officers are Black, the Times notes, reporting that the lawsuit "contends that Mr. Trump and his co-defendants violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that includes protections against violent conspiracies that interfere with Congress's constitutional duties. It also accuses the defendants of committing 'bias-motivated acts of terrorism' in violation of District of Columbia law."

The Times also calls it the first lawsuit "to allege that Mr. Trump worked in concert with both far-right extremists and political organizers promoting his baseless lies that the presidential election was marred by fraud."

Read the entire report here.

Capitol Police Officer Says Shooting Babbitt Was His 'Last​Resort'

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Capitol Police officer who fatally shot a woman as she tried to force her way into the House of Representatives during the January 6 attack said the shooting was a "last resort" because he believed she posed a threat to members of Congress.

"I tried to wait as long as I could," police Lieutenant Michael Byrd said in an interview with NBC Nightly News that aired on Thursday, in what were his first public remarks since the violence.

"I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers."

Byrd described the shooting as an act of "last resort" as he spoke publicly three days after a review by the Capitol Police concluded he had acted lawfully and within department policy in shooting the supporter of then-President Donald Trump as she tried to force her way through a smashed window into the House of Representatives' Speaker's Lobby.

"It was a very terrifying situation," Byrd said.

The shooting of Ashli Babbitt, 35, came on a day of violence that saw hundreds of Trump supporters fight their way into the Capitol, attacking police and sending lawmakers running.

Babbitt was a U.S. Air Force veteran who embraced far-right conspiracy theories on social media, including Trump's false assertions that his 2020 presidential election loss was due to fraud. She was one of four participants in the riot to die on January 6.

Far-right groups have embraced Babbitt as a martyr, arguing she was murdered. Her cause has also been taken up by Trump, who falsely claimed last month that the officer who shot her was the "head of security" for a "high-ranking" Democratic member of Congress.

Police officers who fought the mob recounted scenes of violence in which rioters beat them, taunted them with racist insults and threatened to kill an officer "with his own gun" in testimony last month to a congressional committee.

A Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by rioters died the following day. Four police officers who took part in the defense of the Capitol later took their own lives. More than 100 police officers were injured.

The Capitol Police review of the shooting concluded that it may have saved lives.

"The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved Members and staff from serious injury and possible death from a large crowd of rioters," the department said. It added that the officer's family had "been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats."

The Justice Department in April closed its investigation into the death of Babbitt, saying there was no evidence that the officer had acted criminally in the shooting.

The worst violence at the Capitol since the War of 1812 delayed the certification of Democratic President Joe Biden's election victory by several hours and brought a huge military presence into the city for several months.

Trump supporters, including some of his Republican allies in Congress, have since tried to play down the day's events. Representative Andrew Clyde, who was photographed on January 6 helping to barricade the House chamber door against attackers, has since compared the mob to "a normal tourist visit."

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Additional reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)

House Republicans Explode As Capitol Police Enforce Masking Rules

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans vehemently criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday after Capitol Police officials announced they would begin enforcing COVID-19 safety rules once again.

"In today's edition of Pelosi's abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals," Florida Rep. Kat Cammack tweeted.

"To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren't wearing masks," added House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. "This isn't about science—it's about power and control."

Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik claimed in a separate tweet that Pelosi was an "authoritarian" for reissuing the mask directive, while Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs called it "insanity."

"Threatening arrest for not wearing a mask is unlawful and tyrannical!" he wrote.

Other Republican lawmakers dared the House Speaker to punish them for not complying.

"Nancy Pelosi has lost her damn mind, arresting staff and visitors for not wearing masks? This is the People's House, not her House," tweeted Florida Rep. Byron Donalds. "Let me make it easy for you, Speaker Pelosi, my office, and my visitors won't comply — have an issue with that? Come see me."

The barrage of complaints came after the Capitol Police issued a memo citing the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance urging vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings to curb the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, and a decision by Congress' attending physician to require mask use in the federal building.

The CDC made its determination based on new evidence that some fully vaccinated people may still contract and spread the Delta variant.

House rules, adopted by the majority of its members in accordance with the Constitution, already require face mask use in the chamber. That rule had been eased prior to the latest public health data for vaccinated members, but was tightened again after two GOP lawmakers announced they had contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks (one had been fully vaccinated, the other had previously had the disease).

The Capitol Police memo stated that any "visitor or staff member" found not wearing a mask would be "denied entry to the House." If an unmasked individual continued trying to circumvent the rule, it read, they could be "subject to an arrest."

Many of the Republicans lashing out on Thursday have made efforts in the past to frame themselves as defenders of "law and order."

In a July 1 tweet, Stefanik branded herself "the North Country's Law & Order Candidate."

And in February, Biggs claimed only Republicans could be considered "the party of the Constitution, law and order, freedom, and smaller government."

On Wednesday, Republicans spent more than an hour of House time making repeated failed motions to adjourn the work day, in protest of the mask requirements. During a floor speech, Texas Rep. Chip Roy suggested that the "institution is a sham and we should adjourn and shut this place down" over the reintroduced safety measures.

On Thursday, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said that she had directed staff to work from home over the requirements, tweeting, "No one should be arrested over a mask. We should follow the science not Speaker Pelosi."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Capitol Cop Rips Trump’s 'Pathetic Excuse' For Rioters

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

During a recent interview with Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo, former President Donald Trump seriously downplayed the violence that occurred in Washington, D.C. on January 6 — describing the insurrectionists as "loving" and "peaceful." But when Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the Capitol Police testified before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee on the January 6 riot on Tuesday, he vehemently disagreed with Trump's description of what occurred that day.

Gonell was among the police officers who was present in the U.S. Capitol Building when it was violently attacked by a pro-Trump mob on January 6. And during his testimony before members of Congress, he offered vivid, graphic testimony about the violence that he witnessed.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, an arch-conservative Republican who Pelosi picked for her committee, quoted Trump's exact words during Tuesday's hearing: "It was a loving crowd. There was a lot of love in the crowd." And when Cheney was questioning Gonell, she matter-of-factly asked him, "How does that make you feel?"

Gonell responded, "It was upsetting. It is a pathetic excuse for his behavior for something that he himself helped to create — this monstrosity. I'm still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day."

The Capitol police sergeant, on Tuesday, described the injuries that he suffered on January 6.

"Rioters, terrorists were assaulting us that day," Gonell told Cheney. "If that was hugs and kisses, we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him. To me, it's insulting. It's demoralizing. Because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt. And what he was doing — instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support or telling his people, his supporters to stop this nonsense, he egged them to continue fighting."

Gonell went on to say of the insurrectionists, "All of them were telling us: 'Trump sent us.' It was nobody else. It was not Antifa. It was not Black Lives Matter. It was not the FBI. It was his supporters — he sent them over to the Capitol that day. And he could have done a lot of things. One of them was to tell them to stop."

Capitol Rioters’ Own Footage Powers ​New York Times​ ‘Day Of Rage’ Report

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

While some professional journalists faced hostility and attack while covering the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the grand irony is that so many people involved in the insurrection were doing their jobs for them.

That's evident with The New York Times' release of "Day of Rage," a 40-minute video investigation that painstakingly examines the events of the day. The Times' team collected thousands of videos, starting the afternoon of January 6, many of them posted on social media by the rioters themselves, said Malachy Browne, senior producer on the Times' visual investigations team.

"As the realization set in among many of the participants about what they had done, and the implications of it, much of it was deleted," Browne said.

Too late. The Times had already protected its own copies.

The day had been tough for some of the journalists who covered the attack. Photojournalists for The Associated Press and Times were roughed up, and some AP equipment used to document the event was damaged.

In "Day of Rage," the newspaper used the collected footage, as well as other material like police bodycam film and archived audio from police communications, to recreate the event from many angles. Through the use of time stamps and knowledge of where people were located, for example, the Times tracked down footage from a freelance videographer who hadn't realized he had captured the attack that led to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick's death, Browne said. Sicknick collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. He was sprayed with chemical irritants, but a medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.

The Times was able to determine that rioters breached the Capitol at eight separate locations.

Elsewhere, the footage laid bare the intent of many rioters, like when former President Donald Trump's speech at the pre-riot rally were juxtaposed with what was said in his audience as he spoke.

The Times' probe concludes that the House's delay in shutting off debate on election certification until rioters had appeared outside the chamber contributed to the shooting by police of Ashli Babbitt, a California woman who had joined the crowd that breached the building.

The project depicts law enforcement as overwhelmed, partly due to lack of preparation by their superiors. The footage, some of it seen in other venues over the past months, contains startling moments: a police officer goading a rioter to move in one direction while senators slip to safety in the background, a House employee barricaded in an office whispering to a colleague while a door is being pounded from the outside.

While the footage spots efforts by members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, showing their body armor, weapons, radio communication and organized movements, the Times concludes that the majority of rioters were Trump supporters caught up in the frenzy of the action.

"For many in the crowd, they felt they were carrying out some duty to defend democracy as they see it," Browne said.

The Times' story had nine bylines, but Browne estimated some 15 to 20 journalists participated in its preparation. Even before the documentary's release late Wednesday, the findings contributed to the newspaper's reporting about the incident over the past few months.

Browne, who also narrates the video, minces no words in telling viewers what was concluded.

"Our reconstruction shows the Capitol riot for what it was — a violent assault, encouraged by the president, on a seat of democracy that he vowed to protect," he says in the documentary.

The film also shows a congressman likening the rioters to tourists. "A tourist visit this was not," Browne narrates, "and the proof is in the footage."

The Times' investigation could take on added importance given the stalled government effort to thoroughly investigate what happened that day.

"I think recent events have made a presentation like this more valuable," he said. "Maybe it will create pressure for the investigation. I don't know. Our intention is not to influence policy or politicians, but to really show the public what happened in the fullest way possible."

Pelosi Announces Select Committee To Probe Jan. 6 Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

You cannot say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rushed this decision but now, almost a month after Senate Republicans filibustered a commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi announced that she's launching a select committee to investigate.

"This morning with great solemnity and sadness I'm announcing that the House will be establishing a select committee on the January 6th insurrection," Pelosi said.

On Tuesday, similar reports emerged that Pelosi would form a select committee, only to have Pelosi call it a "false report," with a spokesperson saying: "Speaker Pelosi told Members she plans to announce WHETHER she will create a select committee THIS WEEK. Her preference continues to be a bipartisan commission which Senate Republicans are blocking."

Senate Republicans have forced Pelosi's hand: It's a select committee, investigation by standing committees, or nothing. Pelosi and other Democrats really held out, promoting the idea of another Senate vote even though there was no reason to believe the needed Republican votes would materialize.

Following the Republican filibuster in which 35 Republican senators opposed to the creation of an independent investigatory commission defeated 48 Democrats and six Republicans in favor of it (with 11 senators not voting), Pelosi declared, "Honoring our responsibility to the Congress in which we serve and the Country which we love, Democrats will proceed to find the truth."

It's time to proceed. Past time, really.

In the effort to win Republican votes for a commission, Democrats made major concessions as to the shape the commission would have taken. They don't have to make as many concessions this time. It's a given that Republicans will try to paint anything a select committee does as a partisan witch hunt, so it might as well be an aggressive effort to find the truth as a weak tea effort to look nonpartisan. The weak tea investigation would get the same Republican treatment without the same chance of uncovering important information.

We need a select committee to find out as much as possible about how the attack on the Capitol unfolded, from the earliest planning stages to the days immediately leading up to it to the attack itself to the aftermath and any cover-up attempts. That means getting to the bottom of failures to gather and respond to intelligence about what the crowd of Trump supporters was planning, how the Capitol Police were so unprepared, and why the National Guard was delayed. It includes what Donald Trump was doing during the attack. It includes what Trump told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has been so opposed to an investigatory commission. It includes which extremist groups were involved, and how, and how far-reaching their conspiracies were.

Federal prosecutors are at work on individual defendants and some conspiracies among the mob, but something this big can't be answered just through prosecution of the people on the scene. This was a violent effort to prevent Congress from doing its part in the peaceful transition of power, and it did not just happen organically.

Republicans have made clear that they don't want it investigated. They're engaged in an active campaign of downplaying and covering up, to the extent of 21 House Republicans voting not to award police responders the Congressional Gold Medal. Their participation in and response to a select committee to investigate has to be reported and assessed through that lens.

CNN Airs Soft-Focus 'Profile' Of Violent Capital Rioter

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Five months after rioters smashed windows, hung nooses, brawled with cops, and desecrated the U.S. Capitol, CNN decided to portray a killed Trump insurrectionist from January 6 in a positive light. Leaning into interviews with the family of Ashli Babbitt, CNN did its best to present a pleasing picture of the mob member who was shot and killed by U.S. Capitol police as she and a lawbreaking Trump gang tried to force themselves into the Speaker's Lobby as all hell broke loose that dreadful day.

It was a bewildering and misguided profile that whitewashed a deadly serious topic —radicals who wanted to invalidate an American election and use overwhelming physical force to make it happen. The lawless, violent mob rampaged inside the Capitol for hours, knocking officers unconscious and destroying offices of Democratic members.

CNN framed the report as a Both Sides one: Supporters see Babbitt as a patriot, while liberals see her as a terrorist. CNN then proceeded to completely ignore the liberal perspective for the entire Babbitt report. Readers were repeatedly told what a kind and conscientious person she was. But they were never given the other side of that Both Sides equation.

The CNN misfire was a classic example of what happens when journalists land sought-after interviews, in this case with members of Babbitt's family, and then spin the story in their favor. They tell the tale just as the interview subjects would want it to be told.

"She was brave. She came out that way. Always was that way," Babbitt's mother told CNN. "Elizabeth Babbitt grew up a tomboy in a suburb of San Diego. She kept pace with four brothers and their friends, riding bikes, jumping them over ramps, skateboarding and "playing in the dirt,"" CNN gently reported. As for the deadly insurrection, "I feel like she went to the Capitol because she felt like her voice wasn't being heard," Babbitt's brother told an understanding CNN.

It's impossible to think that if Babbitt weren't a white woman who grew up in suburban America that CNN would ever consider publishing a feel-good piece about a possible terrorist who's been turned into a martyr by the radical right. The report, with its soft family lens, reflects a larger media obsession over the last five years to help humanize Trump's extremist and dangerous white voter base.

Routinely depicted as hard-working folks in search of a political path, and thankful for Trump leadership, Trump voter coverage for years failed to pull back the curtain and reveal a small glimpse of the vicious mob that emerged in January. Even a Trump supporter who had nice things to say about Nazis received a gentle New York Times profile.

Last winter, as Trump supporters rallied around the deranged idea that the election had been stolen, too many journalists expressed empathy for them. In an interview with Vanity Fair, CNN's Jake Tapper said, "I feel sympathy for them, is the truth," he said. "I feel bad. They're outraged because they're being told things that aren't true."

In terms of CNN's Babbitt profile, there's nothing wrong with providing context and detail about her life, particularly since she seems to be a textbook example of someone whose life, even before January 6, was swallowed whole by the cultist, far-right movement to worship Trump like an idol. Since her death, friends have expressed shock at the fanatical and anger-filled turn her politics took, as well as the rabid and often incoherent screeds she began posting online. ("They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours.") If Babbitt wasn't a full-on QAnon devotee at the time of her death, she was awfully close.

But that's not the type of context CNN provided. Instead, the network worked overtime to play down Babbitt's actions on January 6, as well as the actions of thousands of insurrectionists who did their best to overthrow democracy by pummeling police officers for hours on end. Not once in the 2,000-word piece did CNN mention the raging violence that Trump's mob unleashed, as members of the Capitol police force battled in hand-to-hand combat with the remorseless, bloodthirsty gang.

One day before CNN published its insurrectionist valentine, the Department of Justice released additional head cam video from the riot, showing officers being mauled by the deranged mob. Specifically, it showed a retired NYPD officer charging through metal barricades and attacking police with a flagpole during the riot. "You communist motherfucker, fuck you!" the retired cop screamed, before pushing down the crowd-control barrier and swinging a flag pole. He then tackled and began beating an officer.

Multiply that by hundreds, if not thousands of times, to create the deranged bedlam of that day. More than 480 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. From a May report: "One video shows a rioter trying to rip off a police officer's gas mask, then picking up a baton and hitting officers with it. Another video shows a rioter punching officers while wearing gloves with metal knuckles."

But CNN's report breezed right past those difficult truths in order to present Babbitt as a slightly misunderstood "patriot," in the eyes of her family. CNN made no effort to get a comment from any members of the Capitol police force, some of whom had to beg for their lives at the hands of the January 6 mob that Babbitt so proudly championed.