Officers calmly posed for selfies and appeared to open gates for protesters during the madness of the Capitol building insurrection
- The US Capitol Police Force is under fire for its poor handling of Wednesday's insurrection at the Capitol Building.
- The mob took more than four hours to control.
- Protesters also documented the carnival-like atmosphere within the building during the siege and recorded themselves looting and vandalizing the building.
- Critics of the law enforcement response said officers' relative calm was in stark contrast to how Black Lives Matter protesters were handled.
The US Capitol Police Force is under fire for the way it handled Wednesday's insurrection at Capitol Hill, as officers were filmed taking selfies with rioters and appearing to help them move back barricades and open doors.
—katie (@cevansavenger) January 6, 2021
Protesters who seemed as intent on chronicling the breach as participating in it posed for selfies with police officers and uploaded the images to social media.
In one video, an officer can be seen posing for selfies with members of the mob and interacting with them in a congenial manner.
—Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 6, 2021
Many images and videos show members of the pro-Trump contingent cheerfully walking through the Capitol, posing for photos and carrying away items.
Authorities seemed surprised by the overwhelming numbers in the insurrection, despite the event having been discussed across social media for weeks.
—John Jannuzzi (@johnjannuzzi) January 7, 2021
When asked why the police weren't forcing protesters who had broken into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office to leave, an officer said, "We've just got to let them do their thing now," The New York Times reported.
One member of the mob speaking to CNN described a group of protesters smoking weed in one of the Capitol rooms. The police, he said, "were very cool. They were like, hey guys have a good night."
At one point, The Times reported, a group of Trump supporters wandered through the building in search of Sen. Chuck Schumer's office. When they expressed difficulty in finding it, a Capitol Police Officer kindly directed them.
The relative calm and ease with which the authorities handled yesterday's insurrection are in stark contrast to how police approached recent Black Lives Matter protests.
In a message on Thursday morning, Michelle Obama - like many others - noted the relative calm with which police handled the pro-Trump mob, comparing it to how Black Lives Matter protesters have been treated by authorities.
"Like all of you, I watched as a gang - organized, violent, and mad they'd lost an election - laid siege to the United States Capitol," she wrote in a statement published to Twitter. "They set up gallows. They proudly waved the traitorous flag of the Confederacy through the halls. They desecrated the center of American government."
"There's one question I just can't shake: What if these rioters had looked like the folks who go to Ebenezer Baptist Church every Sunday? What would have been different?" she continued. "I think we all know the answer."
Government representatives also had words for the poor response.
"Many of our Capitol Police just acted so bravely and with such concern for the staff, the members, for the Capitol ... and they deserve our gratitude," Pelosi said. "But there was a failure at the top of the Capitol Police."
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who heads up the sub-committee that funds the Capitol Police, said he believed there had been a strategic breakdown.
"You can bet your ass we're going to get to the bottom of it," he said. "I think it's pretty clear that there's going to be a number of people who are going to be without employment very, very soon, because this is an embarrassment."
Following Wednesday's bungled response, the head of the Capitol Police, Steven Sund, resigned.
There continue to be questions as to how and why reinforcements weren't properly called in to help manage the mob. According to The Washington Post, the Pentagon issued memos in the days prior to Trump's White House rally restricting District guardsman from interacting with protesters; accessing ammunition or riot gear; sharing equipment or resources with other law enforcement agencies; or using National Guard technology without the sign off of the Defense Secretary.
Calls to the US Capitol Police were not immediately returned.
The FBI is now asking for the public's help in identifying members of the mob and has thus far received more than 4,000 tips.
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