Lawmakers must investigate whether a lack of preparation allowed a mob to occupy and vandalize the building.
U.S. lawmakers have pledged to investigate how law enforcement handled Wednesday’s violent breach on Capitol Hill, questioning whether a lack of preparation allowed a crowd to occupy and vandalize the building .
United States Capitol Police, tasked with protecting Congress, turned to other law enforcement agencies for help with the mobs that overwhelmed the complex and sent members of Congress in hiding. Law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hours of occupancy of the complex before it was cleaned up on Wednesday night.
Four people died, including a woman shot dead by police inside the Capitol. Three other people have died after suffering “medical emergencies” related to the breach, said Robert Contee, head of the city’s Metropolitan Police Department.
Police said 52 people were arrested Wednesday evening, including 26 on the Capitol grounds. Fourteen police officers were injured, Contee said.
Zoe Lofgren, representing California’s 19th District and chair of the House Administration Committee, said the breach “raises serious security concerns,” adding that her committee will work with House and Senate leaders to review the police response – and its preparation.
Lawmakers crouched under desks and donned gas masks as police unsuccessfully attempted to barricade the building when people came to the Capitol after a rally near the White House in support of President Donald Trump. The mayor of Washington has instituted an evening curfew in an attempt to contain the violence.
Former police chief Val Demings of Florida said it was “painfully obvious” that the Capitol Police “were not prepared for today”. “I certainly thought we would have had a stronger show of force, that steps would have been taken early on to ensure that there was a designated area for protesters at a safe distance from the Capitol.
In an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday night, Demings said it appeared police were sorely understaffed, adding that “there did not appear to be a clear operational plan to really deal with” the thousands of protesters who descended on the city. Capitol following Trump’s complaints of a “rigged election.”
The rioters were pressured by Trump, who spent weeks falsely attacking the integrity of the election and urged his supporters to join Washington, DC in protesting Congress’s formal approval of President-elect Joe’s victory. Biden. The protests interrupted these proceedings for nearly seven hours.
The crowd smashed windows, entered the chambers of the Senate and the House, and entered the offices of lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Demings said there were “a lot of unanswered questions and I’m damn determined to get those questions answered about what went wrong today.”
A police spokesperson could not be reached immediately for comment on Wednesday evening.
Representative Karen Bass said she was outraged to see the social media accounts of a Capitol Police officer posing for a photo with a protester. “Do you want to take a selfie with someone who was robbing a bank?” she asked. “I can’t imagine if a few thousand [Black Lives Matter] demonstrators had descended on the Capitol … that there would be 13 people arrested.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has suggested there may be some leadership changes at the Capitol Police.
“I think it’s pretty clear that there will be a number of people who are going to be out of work very, very soon because it’s an embarrassment both from the crowd, from the president, from the ‘insurgency and the attempted coup, but also the lack of professional planning and management of what we knew was going to happen, ”Ryan said.