Two Capitol Hill police officers have been suspended for their actions in the storming of the U.S. Capitol, as pressure mounts on law enforcement to hold rioters accountable and protect Washington DC from further violence ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.
Tim Ryan, a Democratic senator from Ohio, told reporters Monday that one of the officers took a selfie with someone and the other donned a “Make America Great Again” hat. He said of the latter that “the interim chief determined that this could be suspended immediately.”
Thousands of pro-Donald Trump insurgents stormed the Capitol last Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to flee and into hiding. Five people died, including a police officer from the Capitol.
Several people have already been arrested in connection with the riot, including Richard Barnett, who was pictured with his feet on a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office; Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as Jake Angeli; Adam Christian Johnson, who was pictured carrying Pelosi’s lectern; and Derrick Evans, a recently elected lawmaker from West Virginia. Chansley had his first hearing on Monday.
Ryan said Capitol Police were examining everyone involved who could potentially have facilitated the incursion “at a large or small level in any way.” He said they didn’t want an officer to work on the inauguration of Joe Biden “who wasn’t doing the job at the Jan.6 event.”
Capitol Police on Monday appointed Yogananda Pittman as the new acting chief of the force, which has been plunged into crisis by the security breach.
His appointment, which follows the resignation of former chief Steven Sund following the attack, is historic. Pittman is the first woman and the first black American to head the law enforcement agency, Capitol Police confirmed to US public radio station NPR.
Pittman said the police department “was actively reviewing videos and other open source material from certain [Capitol] officers and officials who appear to be in violation of departmental regulations and policies. “
“Our professional liability office will investigate these behaviors with a view to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Many [Capitol] officers have already been suspended pending the outcome of their investigations, ”she said in a statement Monday evening.
The developments come amid growing concerns about further violence in the run-up to Biden’s January 20 inauguration. The FBI has warned of planned armed protests in Washington and all 50 U.S. state capitals. Washington DC declared a state of emergency ahead of inauguration day, with city mayor Muriel Browser expressing concern over further attacks.
“If I’m afraid of anything, it’s for our democracy, because we have very extreme factions in our country that are armed and dangerous,” Bowser said at a press conference Monday. “Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurgency experienced on Capitol Hill and its grounds on January 6.
In other measures to protect the US capital, the National Guard was authorized to send up to 15,000 troops to Washington and tourists were not allowed to visit the Washington Monument until January 24.