Capitol Police Make Rapid Response to CodePink Protesters After McCain Outrage
Order was promptly restored when CodePink activists disrupted a Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, one week after Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., was “raising hell” about a delayed response by Capitol Police.
The nine uniformed officers inside the Dirksen committee room swiftly escorted a man in an orange jumpsuit from the front row of a hearing on the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba detention facility after he hopped to his feet and yelled, “What’s wrong with you, America?” in reaction to remarks from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “I don’t care anymore. Put me in jail,” yelled the protester. CodePink’s Medea Benjamin identified him as David Barrows. His tirade was muffled, as the doors closed. At least seven additional uniformed Capitol Police were stationed in the lobby area outside the ground floor room.
“I think he may get his wish,” Graham quipped, before resuming his questions to the military and defense officials, who were testifying on conditions at the detention facility.
It was a quick and controlled response, particularly compared to the Jan. 29 incident in the same room that Capitol Police have since admitted to mishandling. McCain garnered media attention by calling one protester “low-life scum,” as he struggled to restore order.
McCain later told CQ Roll Call that had talked to Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt about investigating the incident and had a letter going to the department. McCain also said he wanted to have Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank Larkin involved.
Blunt is engaged in an investigation. The Missouri Republican “is talking to all of the parties involved to get to the bottom of what took place,” Blunt spokeswoman Amber Marchand said Thursday in an email to CQ Roll Call.
“I’ve been talking to the sergeant at arms and the chief, both about it,” Blunt told CQ Roll Call. “And I think we’re getting ourselves in a better place.”
Capitol Police did not immediately respond to questions about their beefed-up security presence. In January, police arrested 21 protesters from a group dedicated to closing the Guantánamo facility after demonstrations in the Senate gallery and the Capitol Visitor Center.
Officers handcuffed Barrows in the hallway. With reporters watching, the protester claimed that he was not resisting arrest. “You’ll make anything up, you’re part of the system,” he said. “Stop making up, and stop pressing my hand like that. You’re hurting me!”
Barrows was later escorted from the building.
About 15 minutes later, another one of the dozen CodePink demonstrators disrupted the hearing.
“We’re going to give you you’re time to speak, honey, if you can wait for this, first,” said Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., in response. She continued to yell about detainee rights, but police quickly stopped the outburst.
“They lost their rights as far as their attack on this country, that’s how I feel about it,” Manchin said.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
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