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Tag: capitol police

Capitol Police Officer Slams Pence For Downplaying January 6

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

A U.S. Capitol Police officer is laying out his grievances about the lenient sentences riot suspects are facing for their participation in the January 6 insurrection.

Speaking to NPR.org, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell described the scene he faced with on January 6 while stationed on the west entrance to the Capitol.

According to Gonell, the scene was similar to a "medieval battleground." He also made it clear that he believes the sentences are not harsh enough considering the trauma inflicted by Capitol rioters on him and other members of law enforcement.

"Their jail time is less than my recovery time," said Gonell, who is still recovering from a shoulder injury. "The charges they're getting do not compare to the mental and physical injuries some of the police officers, including myself, got."

On Twitter, Gonell was critical of former Vice President Mike Pence, who has downplayed the attack that targeted him:



But despite the trauma he endured, he also said that he would do it again if he had to.

"It's mind-boggling to hear some of the things that are coming from some of these elected officials Gonell said. "But at the end of the day, our job is to make them safe and make their work environment safer, regardless of our opinion or political affiliation."

As a result of all that transpired on January 6, several hundred individuals were arrested for storming the Capitol. Even now, Gonnell has admitted how difficult it is to see the lawmakers who supported their efforts.


Capitol Rioter Who Brought Gun On January 6 Said He Was Hunting Pelosi

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham and others on the far-right have been accusing Democrats of exaggerating the violence that occurred when Donald Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6. And they have dismissed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's January 6 select committee as overblown political theater. But according to Politico, 56-year-old Indiana resident Mark Mazza — one of the defendants charged with bringing a gun to the Capitol that day — has implied to investigators that he would have committed violence against Pelosi had he been able to get to her.

Politico's Kyle Cheney reports, "An Indiana man charged with carrying a loaded firearm to the Capitol on January 6 told investigators that if he had found Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 'you'd be here for another reason,' according to court documents posted over the weekend. Mark Mazza, 56, is the latest of about half a dozen January 6 defendants charged with bringing a gun to the Capitol. In this case, Mazza allegedly carried a Taurus revolver known as 'The Judge,' which is capable of firing shotgun shells — two of which were in the chamber, along with three hollow-point bullets. A Capitol Police sergeant obtained the weapon after allegedly fending off an assault from Mazza."

On March 29, according to Cheney, two investigators from the Capitol Police went to Mazza's home in Shelbyville, Indiana, where he told them, "I thought Nan and I would hit it off. I was glad I didn't because you'd be here for another reason. And I told my kids that if they show up, I'm surrendering. Nope, they can have me, because I may go down a hero."

Former President Trump has tried to paint the Capitol rioters as largely nonviolent, but Cheney points out that in fact, a variety of things were used as weapons on January 6.

"The mounting evidence has undercut claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies that the mob attacking the Capitol was unarmed," Cheney notes. "In addition to the growing number of firearms authorities suspect were carried onto Capitol grounds, rioters brought knives, axes, batons, tasers, bats, poles and even a crutch and hockey stick. Others stole police shields and used metal barricades and furniture as makeshift weapons. But Mazza's case is the most clear-cut yet of a loaded firearm on Capitol grounds that day."

Cheney continues, "Prosecutors obtained the gun from the alleged assailant himself and used its serial number to trace it back to him. They located Mazza after learning that on January 8, Mazza himself reported the gun stolen to local authorities. He told the Shelbyville police that it was taken from his car on January 5 while he was driving through Ohio. Mazza's report was entered into a national database, which Capitol Police accessed as they attempted to find the gun's owner."

'Red Flags Everywhere': New Report Shows FBI, DHS Ignored January 6 Warnings

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

A new report from the Washington Post published on Sunday detailed a deep dive into the extensive warnings the federal government received of potential violence and efforts to interfere with Congress's counting of the Electoral College votes on January 6. Despite this ample foreshadowing, the administration and law enforcement agencies were still unable or unwilling to prepare adequate defenses to keep the mob from storming the Capitol that day.

The FBI, in particular, comes off looking inept — if not driven by politically inspired cowardice or indifference.

"The FBI received numerous warnings about January 6 but felt many of the threatening statements were 'aspirational' and could not be pursued," the report found. "In one tip on December 20, a caller told the bureau that Trump supporters were making plans online for violence against lawmakers in Washington, including a threat against Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). The agency concluded the information did not merit further investigation and closed the case within 48 hours."

Donell Harvin, the head of intelligence at the homeland security office in Washington, D.C., did raise the alarm, according to the report. It explained how he "organized an unusual call for all of the nation's regional homeland security offices" — a call joined by hundreds of officials sharing their concerns. They were reportedly warning of an attack on January 6 at 1 p.m. at the U.S. Capitol, just when the insurrection occurred. The planning was happening all over social media, after all — inspired by then-President Donald Trump's own tweets and rhetoric. Harvin reached out to the FBI and other agencies to warn them of what was coming, the report found.

He feared a "mass casualty event," according to the Post.

"While the public may have been surprised by what happened on January 6, the makings of the insurrection had been spotted at every level, from one side of the country to the other," it said. "The red flags were everywhere."

Despite specific warnings of the exact nature of the attack that was coming — the planning of which would certainly be illegal — it appears the FBI limited itself for fear of infringing on First Amendment-protected activity. The Post also suggested that FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was often under fire from Trump, feared angering the man who appointed him by speaking out about the potential for violence.

"The FBI chief wasn't looking for any more confrontations with the president," the Post found, citing current and former law enforcement officials.

Wray remains in his position to this day.

Meanwhile, the Post reported, the Department of Homeland Security did not put out a security bulletin to alert other agencies of the dangers, despite receiving, "sobering assessments of the risk of possible violence on January 6, including that federal buildings could be targeted by protesters."

As has previously been reported, officials in the U.S. Capitol Police were aware of at least some of the danger posed by Trump supporters still angry about the election in the run-up to January 6. These warnings, however, didn't make it to Chief Steven Sund, and he failed to effectively coordinate with the National Guard to get protection for the Capitol. The Capitol Police itself was woefully under-prepared for the assault, as has been widely reported. Sund resigned following the attack, one of the few officials to face real accountability for the failures that led up to that day.


Capitol Police Officer Arrested For Aiding January 6 Rioter

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

On Friday, U.S. Capitol Police officer Michael A. Riley was arrested and indicted on obstruction of justice charges connected to the January 6 insurrection. The Associated Press reports that the 50-year-old Riley is accused of "tipping off someone who participated in the riot by telling them to remove posts from Facebook that had showed the person inside the Capitol."

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Whistleblower Slams Capitol Police Leaders for Jan. 6 'Failures' — And Alleged Lies

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Nine months have passed since the January 6 insurrection, and new reporting continues to emerge about that event. According to NBC News reporters Julie Tsirkin and Teaganne Finn, a Capitol Police whistleblower recently sent a letter to members of Congress "accusing the agency's two senior leaders of mishandling intelligence surrounding the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol."

Tsirkin and Finn report, "In the letter, obtained by NBC News, the whistleblower accused Sean Gallagher, the USCP's acting chief of uniformed operations, and Yogananda Pittman, its assistant chief of police for protective and intelligence operations, of significant 'failures' in the lead-up to and aftermath of the attack. The whistleblower accused Gallagher and Pittman of failing to take appropriate action 'which directly contributed to the deaths and wounding of officers and civilians.'"

The letter was addressed to a combination of Democrats and Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Tsirkin and Finn report that in response to the letter, USCP wrote, "Although there is more work to do, many of the problems described in the letter have been addressed. USCP leaders, under new Chief Tom Manger, are committed to learning from prior mistakes and protecting our brave officers, who fought valiantly on January 6, so we can continue to carry out the Department's critical mission."

The whistleblower's criticism of Capitol Police leadership had previously been reported in Politico.

On October 8, Daniel Lippman and Betsy Woodruff Swan of Politico reported, "The whistleblower accused Gallagher and Pittman of failing to take appropriate action 'which directly contributed to the deaths and wounding of officers and civilians.' They also accused Pittman, who was the agency's acting chief from January 6 to July 23, of lying to Congress about having sent 'the single most critical' intelligence report to other USCP staff the day before the attack. The whistleblower said the report was never shared."

According to Lippman and Swan, "The whistleblower accuses Gallagher and Pittman of deliberately choosing not to help officers under attack on January 6 and alleges that Pittman lied to Congress about an intelligence report Capitol Police received before that day's riot. After a lengthy career in the department, the whistleblower was a senior official on duty on January 6.

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)