Hundreds of National Guard members are camped out at the Capitol to protect lawmakers, some still reeling from the violence and preparing for Biden's inauguration next week.(AFP)
Hundreds of National Guard members are camped out at the Capitol to protect lawmakers, some still reeling from the violence and preparing for Biden's inauguration next week.(AFP)

US police weigh officer discipline after rally, Capitol riot

The contrasting cases highlight the dilemma faced by police departments nationwide as they review the behavior of dozens of officers who were in Washington the day of the riot by supporters of President Donald Trump.
AP
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:58 PM IST

For two Virginia police officers who posed for a photo during the deadly US Capitol insurrection, the reckoning has been swift and public: They were identified, charged with crimes and arrested.

But for five Seattle officers the outcome is less clear. Their identities still secret, two are on leave and three continue to work while a police watchdog investigates whether their actions in the nation's capital on Jan. 6 crossed the line from protected political speech to lawbreaking.

cOfficials and experts agree that officers who were involved in the melee should be fired and charged for their role.

But what about those officers who attended only the Trump rally before the riot? How does a department balance an officer's free speech rights with the blow to public trust that comes from the attendance of law enforcement at an event with far-right militants and white nationalists who went on to assault the seat of American democracy?

An Associated Press survey of law enforcement agencies nationwide found that at least 31 officers in 12 states are being scrutinized by their supervisors for their behavior in the District of Columbia or face criminal charges for participating in the riot. Officials are looking into whether the officers violated any laws or policies or participated in the violence while in Washington. A Capitol Police officer died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as rioters descended on the building and many other officers were injured. A woman was shot to death by Capitol Police and three other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos.

Most of the officers have not been publicly identified; only a few have been charged. Some were identified by online sleuths. Others were reported by their colleagues or turned themselves in.

They come from some of the country’s largest cities — three Los Angeles officers and a sheriff’s deputy, for instance — as well as state agencies and a Pennsylvania police department with nine officers. Among them are an Oklahoma sheriff and New Hampshire police chief who have acknowledged being at the rally, but denied entering the Capitol or breaking the law.

“If they were off-duty, it’s totally free speech,” said Will Aitchison, a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, who represents law enforcement officers. “People have the right to express their political views regardless of who’s standing next to them. You just don’t get guilt by association.”

But Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a professor at Case Western Reserve University law school, said an officer’s presence at the rally creates a credibility issue as law enforcement agencies work to repair community trust, especially after last summer's of protests against police brutality sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Communities will question the integrity of officers who attended the rally along with “individuals who proudly profess racist and divisive viewpoints,” she said. “It calls into question whether those officers are interested in engaging in policing in a way that builds trust and legitimacy in all communities, including communities of color.”

In Rocky Mount, a Virginia town of about 1,000, Sgt. Thomas Robertson and Officer Jacob Fracker were suspended without pay and face criminal charges after posting a photo of themselves inside the Capitol during the riot. According to court records, Robertson wrote on social media that the “Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem … The right IN ONE DAY took the f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.”

Attempts to contact the pair were unsuccessful and court records do not list lawyers. Leaders in Rocky Mount declined to be interviewed. In a statement, they said the events at the Capitol were tragic.

“We stand with and add our support to those who have denounced the violence and illegal activity that took place that day,” said Police Chief Ken Criner, Capt. Mark Lovern and Town Manager James Ervin. “Our town and our police department absolutely does not condone illegal or unethical behavior by anyone, including our officers and staff.”

On the other side of the county, five Seattle officers are under investigation by the city’s Office of Police Accountability. Two officers posted photos of themselves on social media while in the district and officials are investigating to determine where they were and what they were doing. Three others told supervisors that they went to Washington for the events and are being investigated for what they did while there.

Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said his department supports officers’ freedom of speech and that those who were in the nation's capital will be fired if they “were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”

But police leaders need to evaluate more than just clear criminal behavior, according to Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a policing research and policy group. They must also consider how their actions affect the department credibility, he said.

Officers' First Amendment rights “don’t extend to expressing words that may be violent or maybe express some prejudice,” Wexler said, “because that’s going to reflect on what they do when they’re working, when they’re testifying in court.”

Through the summer and fall, Seattle police — along with officers elsewhere — came under criticism for their handling of mass protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd. The city received more than 19,000 complaints against officers, most for excessive use of force and improper use of pepper spray.

Andrew Myerberg, director of the Seattle Office of Police Accountability, said none of the officers now under investigation were involved in those cases.

But Sakara Remmu, cofounder of Black Lives Matter Seattle/King County, said the officers should be fired regardless. Their public declarations of solidarity with Trump fosters not just community distrust, but terror of the entire department, she said.

“It absolutely does matter when the decorum of racial peace cracks and racial hatred comes through, because we already have a documented history and legacy of what that means in this country,” Remmu said.

In Houston, the police chief decried an officer who resigned and was later charged in the riot. A lawyer for Officer Tam Pham said the 18-year veteran of the force "very much regrets” being at the rally and was “deeply remorseful.”

But many chiefs have said their officers committed no crimes.

“The Arkansas State Police respects the rights and freedom of an employee to use their leave time as the employee may choose,” department spokesman Bill Sadler said of two officers who attended the Trump rally.

Malik Aziz, the former chair and executive director of the National Black Police Association, compared condemning all officers who were in Washington to tarring all the protesters who took to streets after the killing of George Floyd with the violent and destructive acts of some.

A major with the Dallas Police Department, Aziz said police acting privately have the same rights as other Americans, but that knowingly going to a bigoted event should be disqualifying for an officer.

“There’s no place in law enforcement for that individual,” Aziz said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Topics
Close
"Working with the US and Canada, the UK has taken action by imposing human rights sanctions against nine Myanmar military officers, including the commander-in-chief, for their role in the coup," a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said.(AP)
"Working with the US and Canada, the UK has taken action by imposing human rights sanctions against nine Myanmar military officers, including the commander-in-chief, for their role in the coup," a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said.(AP)

UK says Myanmar killings are abhorrent, urges return to democracy

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:28 PM IST
Myanmar police fired on protesters earlier on Sunday in the bloodiest day of weeks of demonstrations against a coup and at least 18 people were killed, the UN human rights office said.
Close
Over 239.6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered all over the world as of Saturday.(AP)
Over 239.6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered all over the world as of Saturday.(AP)

Which other countries have vaccinated senior citizens against Covid-19

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:07 PM IST
The vaccination programme for people above the age of 60 years and within the age bracket of 45-59 years with co-morbidities will begin from March 1 in the country.
Close
"We have no time to waste. If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus," Biden said. (REUTERS)
"We have no time to waste. If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus," Biden said. (REUTERS)

Biden in no rush to lift Venezuela sanctions, seeks 'serious steps' by Maduro

Posted by Prashasti Singh | Reuters, Venezuela
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:57 PM IST
Signaling that the new U.S. president may be unlikely to loosen the screws on Venezuela anytime soon, an official emphasized that existing sanctions have enough special provisions to allow for humanitarian aid shipments to help Venezuelans cope with economic hardships and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Close
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference.(Reuters)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference.(Reuters)

Andrew Cuomo's scandals dim luster of man dubbed ‘America’s governor’

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:46 PM IST
  • On Saturday, a second former aide accused Cuomo of harassment, according to the New York Times. Charlotte Bennett, a former health policy adviser, said Cuomo had asked her questions about her sex life and made what she interpreted as sexual overtures.
Close
The bomb squad and SWAT team were on the scene of what police described as an "active situation."(AP file photo)
The bomb squad and SWAT team were on the scene of what police described as an "active situation."(AP file photo)

3 cops injured in explosion in US' Kansas

ANI, Washington
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:41 PM IST
The officers were taken to a hospital, with one officer in serious but stable condition.
Close
Britain has rolled out Europe's fastest Covid-19 vaccination programme, raising the prospect of a lifting of its current lockdown restrictions between now and the end of June.(AP)
Britain has rolled out Europe's fastest Covid-19 vaccination programme, raising the prospect of a lifting of its current lockdown restrictions between now and the end of June.(AP)

UK says more than 20 million people have received Covid-19 shot

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:39 PM IST
"A magnificent achievement for the country," Hancock said on Twitter. "The vaccine is our route out. When you get the call, get the jab!"
Close
Msehli said many of the survivors suffered from burns from engine fuel, and hypothermia, with some taken to hospital. (Representative Image)(Reuters image)
Msehli said many of the survivors suffered from burns from engine fuel, and hypothermia, with some taken to hospital. (Representative Image)(Reuters image)

UN says 15 Europe-bound migrants have died at sea off Libya

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:25 PM IST
Safa Msehli, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said the dead were on a rubber boat carrying at least 110 migrants, who embarked from the Libyan coastal town of Zawiya on Friday.
Close
Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them.(AFP)
Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them.(AFP)

Brief history of CPAC that continues to maintain influence over US Conservatives

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 08:23 PM IST
In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, the then California governor Ronald Reagan gave the keynote address at CPAC. This helped in electing Reagan as the president. Since then, the event has become a meeting ground for various strains of the conservative movement.
Close
A wounded protester is carried during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday.(AP)
A wounded protester is carried during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday.(AP)

Myanmar’s deadliest day since military coup leaves at least 18 dead

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:58 PM IST
The deaths came after soldiers and police officers fired live ammunition into crowds in six cities across Myanmar, UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said.
Close
Addressing the public in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said he was adding his voice to others including Nigeria’s bishop in condemning what he described as “the vile abduction” of the girls.(REUTERS)
Addressing the public in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said he was adding his voice to others including Nigeria’s bishop in condemning what he described as “the vile abduction” of the girls.(REUTERS)

Pope prays for liberation of 317 kidnapped Nigerian students

Posted by Prashasti Singh | AP, Vatican City
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:48 PM IST
Police on Friday in Nigeria said gunmen had abducted the students from their boarding school. Several large groups of armed men operate in the area and are known to kidnap for ransom money and the release of their jailed cohorts.
Close
A portion of a panorama taken by Navcams aboard Nasa's Perseverance Mars rover shows the Martian landscape.(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via REUTERS)
A portion of a panorama taken by Navcams aboard Nasa's Perseverance Mars rover shows the Martian landscape.(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via REUTERS)

Indian-origin Nasa scientist controlling Perseverance rover from his London flat

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 07:24 PM IST
  • The mission control is at Nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, where the Perseverance rover was built.
Close
Policemen clash with the activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during the third day of protests following the death of Mushtaq Ahmed, a prominent writer and government critic in jail, in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka.(AFP)
Policemen clash with the activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during the third day of protests following the death of Mushtaq Ahmed, a prominent writer and government critic in jail, in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka.(AFP)

What is Bangladesh's controversial digital security law?

AFP, Dhaka
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 06:55 PM IST
  • Mushtaq Ahmed, 53, collapsed and died on Thursday 10 months after being arrested under Bangladesh's Digital Security Act (DSA) for comments on Facebook criticising the government's response to coronavirus.
Close
The agency warned about possible displacement of another 380,000 people if fighting reached the actual city of Marib, capital of the province where camps for displaced people are already crowded. (Representative Image)(Reuters image)
The agency warned about possible displacement of another 380,000 people if fighting reached the actual city of Marib, capital of the province where camps for displaced people are already crowded. (Representative Image)(Reuters image)

UN warns of mass famine in Yemen ahead of donor conference

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 06:52 PM IST
The stark warning comes a day before a pledging conference co-hosted by Sweden and Switzerland. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will appeal for $3.85 billion in relief aid for Yemen this year.
Close
Men who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region run to receive cooked rice from charity organization Muslim Aid, at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan.(AP)
Men who fled the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region run to receive cooked rice from charity organization Muslim Aid, at Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan.(AP)

US expresses grave concerns over reports of abuses in Ethiopia

AP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 06:31 PM IST
Ethiopia's central government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other's governments are illegitimate after the pandemic disrupted elections.
Close
In this undated handout photo provided by Kensington Palace on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, Britain's Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge smile during a video call to people with health conditions about the positive impact of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Duke of Cambridge has urged people to keep on taking the Covid-19 vaccination so "younger generations" will feel "it's really important for them to have it". (Kensington Palace via AP)(AP)
In this undated handout photo provided by Kensington Palace on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, Britain's Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge smile during a video call to people with health conditions about the positive impact of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Duke of Cambridge has urged people to keep on taking the Covid-19 vaccination so "younger generations" will feel "it's really important for them to have it". (Kensington Palace via AP)(AP)

Prince William backs anti-Covid-19 vaccines in call with Indian-origin family

PTI, London
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 06:30 PM IST
More than 18 million people have now had a first vaccine dose, equivalent to one in three adults in the UK.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP