Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police and the Capitol Police are defending their response to riots at the United States Capitol yesterday, noting that arrests are being made, suspects are being sought, and the protesters were more dangerous than they may have appeared on social media.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund denied accusations that his department stood down in the face of a demonstration that quickly became a riot on Wednesday, telling the media that the Capitol Police did not expect what turned out to be an armed attack.
Officers “acted valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions,” Sund said.
“Rioters ‘actively attacked’ Capitol police and other law enforcement officers Wednesday with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers,” he added in a statement.
The incident, Sund said, was “unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C. Make no mistake: these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior. The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced.”
Sund’s statement notes that Capitol Police were prepared and had a “robust plan” for what they thought, based on previous experience, would be a peaceful demonstration. “These mass riots were not First Amendment activities,” Sund added. “They were criminal riotous behavior.”
D.C. police added later that 60 Capitol Police officers were injured, 15 seriously. One remains in critical condition.
Members of both parties were hastily evacuated for their own protection during the invasion that saw dozens, if not hundreds, of demonstrators swarm the Capitol building, ransacking offices, stealing items, and pushing to enter secure chambers. Late Wednesday and early Thursday, many of those legislators spoke up, demanding to know why rioters made it so far into the building.
The Associated Press also notes that lawmakers are concerned that the Capitol Police are suffering from “a lack of preparedness” that ultimately “allowed a mob to occupy and vandalize the building.”
“Capitol Police, who are charged with protecting Congress, turned to other law enforcement for help with the mob that overwhelmed the complex and sent lawmakers into hiding. Both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hours-long occupation of the complex before it was cleared Wednesday evening,” the AP reported.
Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police chief said, in a press conference Thursday, that 68 people have been arrested for crimes related to yesterday’s riot, and that the department is working with Federal law enforcement officials to “to identify and hold each and every one of the violent mob accountable.”
D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee says 68 people arrested so far for the Capitol siege, and department is working "to identify and hold each and every one of the violent mob accountable." Police are working with local businesses and FBI, and asking for tips to identify rioters pic.twitter.com/5Mp2hLsOlV
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 7, 2021
The FBI released a set of photos Thursday morning, asking for help identifying the individuals pictured inside the U.S. Capitol building. Federal law enforcement officials added that warrants have been issued, and they expect more arrests as the day wears on.