“The Capitol Police had a plan, but apparently they were taking over normal business,” an unnamed police officer told the Post. “They didn’t expect Trump to incite them and force them into it. The bottom line was that there weren’t enough staff to stop a mob from entering.”
But here’s the thing: to say, “We didn’t know they were seriously going to break into the Capitol” is not an excuse. It is simply a statement that the Capitol Police gave this group special treatment beforehand – when the leaders were not about to stop them from storming the Capitol – and regretted it afterwards.
These domestic terrorists have been public about their plans, and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser gave city residents early warning of possible violence. A district official described the realization that “This could be a stadium-sized crowd – a full-fledged Trump rally, much bigger than anything we’ve seen before. ”
But “even as people flocked to downtown Washington on Wednesday morning, Capitol police officers assured DC police officers that they were comfortable with their security settings, according to a senior district police officer,” the Post reported. Once again, the failure to defend the Capitol Building and members of Congress, as well as staff and other workers therein, was a decision made at the head of the department. The individual cops taking selfies with domestic terrorists or opening gates to let them in are a problem, but they are not the source of the problem.
The Congress takes note. “There shouldn’t be anyone near the Capitol. You would be reasonably close to protest and express your opinion, but no one belongs on Capitol Square, no one ever steps on the Capitol steps, this is an illegal act. … It was illegal activity and these people should have been arrested immediately, “Rep. Tim Ryan told reporters. Making the likely outcome clear, he said, “I think it’s pretty clear that there will be a number of people who will be out of work very, very soon.”
The people who are unemployed should include decision-making people, the people who treated this known, explicit threat so much more casually than Black Lives Matter protesters who have been treated in cities across the country and in the Capitol itself in recent years .
“If the blacks had done what these white terrorists did today, can you imagine the reaction? They would have been gassed in tears, sprayed with pepper spray, arrested and charged with crime or treason, “civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement. “Another tragic portrayal of our two judicial systems.”
After the Capitol Police made the catastrophic mistake of not preparing for what was to come, they and other law enforcement agencies spent the hours that followed catching up. We were told there were no more arrests because “there just weren’t enough staff to do anything.” But again, the inadequate staff was a decision someone had made.
The National Guard was eventually called up as a last resort after Bowser tried to prevent a repeat of the federal armed occupation of the district last summer. Again, one has to wonder whether officials at all levels would have worked so hard to avoid the images of armed troops in the Capitol if they had been involved in a protest against racial justice. And when the Capitol Police asked for assistance, the Pentagon took its time to inquire.
There is much to be done, but the people dealing with it – including members of Congress who were directly threatened during the Capitol invasion – need to view the lack of preparation not as an “oops” but as a decision, an assessment that Trump’s supporters would not pose the threat they had for weeks told everyone that given the chance, they would absolutely pose a threat.