D.C. Mayor: Jan. 6 Security Failed Over Belief White Nationalists Are Police Friendly

“People didn’t think that these white nationalists would overthrow the Capitol building,” Mayor Muriel Bowser testified to Jan. 6 House committee members.

Security at the U.S. Capitol failed during the insurrection last year largely because of the misconception that extremist right-wingers would be “friendly” to the police, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) testified before the Jan. 6 House committee.

“People thought they were friendly to law enforcement and that they loved their country,” Bowser said in a new testimony transcript released by the Jan. 6 committee Thursday. “People didn’t think that these white nationalists would overthrow the Capitol building.”

William Walker, head of the D.C. National Guard during the insurrection, told Jan. 6 committee members that the response to Jan. 6 would have been “vastly different” and harsher had the rioters been Black. He indicated many people in the crowd would have more likely been killed by law enforcement, according to a transcript of his testimony released Tuesday.

“I saw enough to where I would have probably been using deadly force,” Walker testified. “I think it would have been more bloodshed if the composition would have been different.”

More than 100 officers with the U.S. Capitol Police and the local Metropolitan Police Department were injured the day of the insurrection. Five officers died after the attack, one from a stroke and four from suicide.

Bowser also faulted the Defense Department for not responding more quickly to the Capitol as rioters mobbed the building.

Bowser recounted talking about the mounting violence at the Capitol on the phone with Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. “You’re seeing what I’m seeing; your Capitol is being overrun,” she recalled telling him.

National and local law enforcement officials have been sharply criticized for failing to anticipate the scale of the violence that day, despite multiple compelling signs in social media posts and other online activity.

Part of the failure appeared to be a knee-jerk opinion about what group of Americans represented a violence risk, Bowser indicated.

But Bowser testified that MAGA disciples — overwhelmingly white — had already proven themselves to be increasingly aggressive with police in demonstrations and riots in D.C. in December 2020.

“In December ... we had a flurry of these white nationalist groups come in and vandalize some of our churches; Proud Boys, so-called Proud Boys and the like,” Bowser recalled. “We had a lot of street antagonism and violence.”

“That was the first time we saw those groups really disrupt and vandalize, and were very aggressive with the police,” the mayor told the House committee. “I think our experience with them in December showed us that they were antagonistic to law enforcement.”

Approximately 900 defendants have been arrested for crimes linked to the storming of the Capitol on charges including trespass, property theft and damage, assault and seditious conspiracy, among other offenses.

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