The US Capitol Police refused to accept help from the FBI and National Guard before President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol, according to a report.
The Pentagon offered Sunday to send guardsmen to help secure the perimeter and the Justice Department offered FBI help on Wednesday as the mob arrived, according to The Associated Press. Both offers were rejected.
Instead, despite plenty of warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration.
The result is the Capitol was overrun Wednesday and officers in a law enforcement agency with a large operating budget and experience in high-security events protecting lawmakers were overwhelmed for the world to see. Four protesters died including one shot inside the building.
“This was a failure of imagination, a failure of leadership,” said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, whose department responded to several large protests last year following the death of George Floyd. “The Capitol Police must do better and I don’t see how we can get around that.”
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that as the rioting was underway, it became clear that the Capitol Police were overrun. But he said there was no contingency planning done in advance for what forces could do in case of a problem at the Capitol because Defense Department help was turned down. “They’ve got to ask us, the request has to come to us,” said McCarthy.
Under pressure, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said Thursday he would resign over his force’s mishandling of the attack on the Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had demanded Sund’s resignation earlier Thursday, saying a leadership failure allowed for the jarring violence within the Capitol.
Gus Papathanasiou, head of the Capitol Police union, also called on Sund to step aside, saying he put officers in harm’s way.
Pelosi said Thursday that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, who is not a member of Capitol Police, also is resigning. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is demanding that the upper chamber’s Sergeant-at-Arms Mike Stenger resign.
Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol after he addressed a massive gathering near the White House. Trump told the crowd he was robbed of re-election, and urged supporters to march to the Capitol to persuade legislators to reject President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
Protesters initially met little resistance as they bypassed flimsy security fencing and approached the building. Multiple entrances were forced open as the crowd fought police, ransacked offices and prowled the Senate chamber.
Both Acevedo and Ed Davis, a former Boston Police commissioner who led the department during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, told AP they did not fault the responses of clearly overmatched front-line officers, but the planning and leadership before the riot.
“Was there a structural feeling that well, these are a bunch of conservatives, they’re not going to do anything like this? Quite possibly,” Davis said. “That’s where the racial component to this comes into play in my mind. Was there a lack of urgency or a sense that this could never happen with this crowd? Is that possible? Absolutely.”
McCarthy told AP that law enforcement’s intelligence estimates of the potential crowd size in the run-up to the protests “were all over the board,” from a low of 2,000 to as many as 80,000.
So the Capitol Police had set up no hard perimeter around the Capitol. Officers were focused on one side where lawmakers were entering to vote to certify Biden’s win.
Order was restored hours later as hundreds of federal agents, including from the FBI and National Guard, entered the Capitol through underground tunnels.
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the DC Metropolitan Police Department and police from neighboring areas also joined the fight, which included a dramatic struggle in the Rotunda.
One Trump supporter, Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, was fatally shot by a policeman while attempting to break through a barricaded interior office window. Three other people died during medical emergencies amid the chaos, police said.
with Associated Press
Capitol Police turned down help from FBI, National Guard before siege The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ New York Post.