At least a dozen disruptive anti-war protesters have been arrested in congressional office buildings this week, and authorities say an investigation continues into the spray-paint vandalism done to the U.S. Capitol at last weekend’s anti-war rally, and more arrests are possible.
The attack on the treasure that is the U.S. Capitol itself last weekend, when anti-war slogans were painted on the steps leading up to the entrance, went under-reported among major media outlets.
WND asked about it at a press briefing at the White House as soon as it happened, but about the only other media outlet to report on the damage was The Hill.
Brian Fitzpatrick, of the Culture and Media Institute, said the vandals – “black-clad radicals, many wearing masks” did the damage.
“Here’s what ABC, NBC, CBS, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, USA Today and other major outlets did not find newsworthy:” he wrote in a commentary on the problem.
“Waving red and black flags, and carrying riot shields emblazoned with ‘America out of everywhere,’ 300 protesters spray-painted ‘anarchist symbols,’ political taunts and curses on the west front steps of the Capitol building. The western side is the portion of the Capitol facing the Mall, which was in full view of every reporter and cameraman covering the march.”
Now Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., is reporting that he was so distraught by the assault on the national symbol, he met with U.S. Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse and U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer.
“The U.S. Constitution does protect the freedom of speech, but it also protects property,” he said. “I was outraged that the Capitol was defaced. The entire Capitol campus is a national treasure and should never be harmed as part of any protest or demonstration. I needed to personally share my thoughts with Chief Morse and I was pleased that he shared my sentiments and explained the situation from this past weekend.”
Allard reported that a “small number of demonstrators” engaged in the vandalism by using “premeditated shielding methods to hide themselves from the view of officers as they defaced the capitol grounds.”
“The Capitol is an important symbol of our democracy and I am pleased that the Capitol Police did their best this weekend under trying circumstances,” said Allard. “I expect that we will use this as an opportunity to improve on crowd control measures in the future. I was pleased that Chief Morse intends to place a renewed emphasis on planning, staffing, and preparation for future demonstrations.
Fitzpatrick reported that police had been ordered to stand aside and allow “the anarchists, many of whom were members of Students for a Democratic Society,” to do their vandalism unmolested, but Allard said Capitol police assured him that they are reviewing all available videotapes of the weekend and will arrest those who can be identified.
Allard said he was assured by Morse that the vandalism was not “allowed,” but happened despite officers’ efforts to protect the building and its grounds.
“I was absolutely dismayed by the vandalism and the blatant disregard for respect of property that occurred at our Nation’s Capitol,” Allard said. “On a day when thousands came to Washington, D.C., to exercise their First Amendment rights, the actions of a select few have tarnished their efforts by defacing the United States Capitol and several other government buildings. I am disgusted by these actions…,” he said.
“An Associated Press story reprinted by The Washington Post briefly mentioned the rush on the Capitol. A writer for CounterPunch, a leftwing newsletter, bemoaned the failure of more protesters to join the charge up the Capitol steps, so ‘it would have been hard for the men in blue to do much.’ Apart from The Hill’s story, that’s all the coverage of the assault on and defacement of the Capitol that I could find,” Fitzpatrick wrote.
“Apparently the media don’t want Americans to know that some of the people protesting the Iraq war are filled with hate not only for the war, or even President Bush, but for America itself.”
WND had, at its first opportunity, asked presidential spokesman Tony Snow about the situation.
“This Hill newspaper on Capitol Hill reports that Jane Fonda’s fellow anti-war protesters were allowed to spray paint on the part of the west front steps of the U.S. Capitol building on Saturday after U.S. Capitol Police were ordered by Chief Phillip Morse to fall back, after which 300 protesters spray painted, ‘Our Capitol Building’ and ‘You can’t stop us,'” said Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House.
“And my question, does the executive branch believe the legislative branch should have allowed this treatment of the Capitol building of the United States?” he asked.
“I would encourage you, or all others interested, to call the Capitol Police and find out how this came to pass. I just – I can’t answer it,” said Snow.
“Yes, one wonders what does the president – he must have an opinion on this? Doesn’t he?” continued Kinsolving.
But Snow already had gone on to the next question.
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