US Capitol riots: Violence could repeat again, security officer warns January 6
The police officer in charge of security at the United States Capitol during the January 2021 protests warned that the violence could be repeated.
Speaking to Sky News on the second anniversary of a day that shocked the nation, Chief Steven Sund said: “My concern is that the failures, the security failures themselves, which have produced on January 6 could lead to another attack, whether domestic or foreign.
“We missed all the signals that should have told us this was happening. The security structure failed miserably.”
Mr Sund resigned within hours of the protests. Five of its officers died and 140 were seriously injured in the violence.
As the head of the police force having jurisdiction over Capitol Hill, he was criticized for his failures.
Two years later, he says, intelligence failures, within his department and beyond, coupled with his own rejected requests for reinforcements, have made his job impossible.
“Intelligence was a disaster. We now know there was significant intelligence, saying people were coordinating an attack on the Capitol, which didn’t fall into the right hands. I found out after Jan. 6 .”
“There must be lessons learned from January 6 that apply to a future event,” he said.
Mr Sund insisted he did not want to be drawn into the political divisions revealed by the events of January 6, but made a pointed remark.
“We’re a very divided country right now and I blame the politicians on both sides. The rhetoric of not being able to work with your fellow politician just sets a standard that Americans are just emulating.
“They need to grow up and act like adults.”
“My most visceral memory was…I look up and see this crowd of hundreds coming”
Reflecting on the events of that January afternoon, Mr Sund said: “It was a difficult, difficult and dark day. My most visceral memory was 12:53 when I was at the command center…and someone shouted ‘there is a large crowd approaching our western front’. And I look up and see this crowd of hundreds of people going through Garfield Circle, and then another crowd going through Peace Circle, approaching our line of officers right there on the aisles.”
He continued: “What struck me was how quickly these mobs became violent with my officers on these barricades, beating them, shooting at the barricades, shooting the officers and starting to beat the officers. I didn’t never seen that type of response in my life. It was extremely violent and I felt like I had a shock in my body that sometimes I still feel today.
Describing his request for reinforcements, he said, “While we are under attack, I will be requesting the National Guard and have faced a 71-minute delay while the Capitol Police Board, the two Sergeants-at-Arms , were discussing making a decision….”
“Then I have to wait three and a half hours for the National Guard to arrive because the Pentagon, like the Sergeant-at-Arms, doesn’t like the appearance of the National Guard troops on Capitol Hill…” says- he. .
“So they’re delaying and delaying and delaying. We had 150 National Guard troops deployed on the streets of Washington D.C., with all the riot gear, and they wouldn’t move them half a mile to two miles to tell me.”
The former police chief develops his criticisms, in particular against the Ministry of Defense, in his book “Courage Under Fire”.
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“I think about it every day”
Responding to criticism, Pentagon officials refer to a published schedule detailing the day’s military planning.
At the White House, the day’s anniversary was marked with a small ceremony.
President Biden awarded Citizens’ Presidential Medals to those who defended the Capitol and to others whom the White House credits with “courage and selflessness during a time of peril for our nation.” Among them were police officers, election officials, as well as officials at the national and local levels.
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“I miss being a police officer…” Mr. Sund said, sitting on the steps outside the Capitol.
“I miss being here. I love the men and women of the Capitol Police. a uniform, but I miss it. And it did…it had a big impact on me, but it had a big impact on every officer that was here that day.
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