Wednesday, January 31, 2007
On this day:

Police allow protesters to vandalize Capitol

During Saturday's peace protests in Washington, U.S. Capitol Police were apparently ordered to stand idly by while anti-war protesters vandalized the Capitol building.

If this story is accurate, the Capitol Police have got a lot of explaining to do. Why did they allow people to spray-paint the Capitol steps without intervening (preferably with billy-clubs) to stop them? Why was no one arrested and sent to a cool, dark dungeon someplace where the only way to make graffiti would be to scrawl it into concrete walls with one's fingernails? Who gave the order to stand by and watch this happen, and why was that person not demoted to janitor on the spot?

The Capitol is one of the most honored symbols of our Republic. At the very least, the band of miscreants who desecrated it should be forced to compensate its owners - the citizens of the United States - for the mess they made. Due to the irresponsiblity of the Capitol Police, even that minimal remedy seems impossible.

At least one member of Congress is taking this matter seriously:
[AP] Also on Monday, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., asked for a meeting with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse to discuss why police on Saturday did not stop a group of demonstrators who spray-painted steps on the west side of the Capitol.

"It is my understanding protesters were allowed to spray-paint the Capitol steps and deface buildings around the area while Capitol Police were instructed to not arrest anyone engaged in these unlawful acts," he wrote in a letter to Morse.

Schneider said police used "measured police crowd control practices" with the protesters. She said the writing was cleaned off quickly.
Ms. Schneider may call this method of crowd control "measured." I call it cowardly. The job of the Capitol Police is to protect the Capitol building and grounds. If they can be so easily intimidated by a few peacenik vandals armed with spray-paint, what message does that send to those with more devious intentions?