This week, a group of immigration activists (including children) stormed Capitol Hill, a practice that has become common by those seeking immigration reform. With cameras in tow, wearing T-shirts that read: “Keep My Family Together,” the activists were singing and chanting in unison.
A group outside of House Speaker John Boehner’s office was approached by a Capitol Hill police officer when they began singing. He instructed them that he would not tolerate the disruptive singing, stating, in part: “This is a place of business and we do not sing in the hallways. Comprende?“
While individuals are allowed to visit the building, disruptive actions (such as loud singing, as this group was doing) are grounds for removal and/or arrest. Rather than removal or arrest, though, the officer simply warned them to stop the loud singing.
But his enforcement of the law — and of keeping the legislative offices orderly — is now under heavy fire.
A video of the officer addressing the group is up on YouTube (click here to view). Its title? “Capitol Police yell at singing children and activists.”
First, “yell”? At no point in the video does the officer raise his voice, much less directly at the children in the group.
Second, why is the focus here on the officer’s so-called yelling, rather than the loud group that was clearly being disruptive?
Third, the children. Immigration activists routinely incorporate children into these events. Why? Why drag a child into a contentious environment? One possible reason is that the children provide a safeguard or, better yet, a sympathy-card in situations such as this. Due to the children’s presence, now, for instance, it’s not an-officer-yelling-at-disruptive-adults but an-officer-yelling-at-innocent-children. Should any officer actually remove or arrest such a group, that would be ‘pay dirt’ for the immigration-reform movement — imagine the outrage over a group of children being removed and the video that would go viral.
In the video, one of the activists appears to deliberately play up the ‘but, children!’ card for the full benefit of the camera recording next to her. When the officer issues his warning, she (bizarrely) reassures the kids: “It’s OK, you’re safe with us.” Huh? When did any of the children say they did not feel safe because of the officer? What did the officer do to make any of the children feel unsafe? In fact, looking at the video, one sees none of the three children around this woman is visibly upset, nor crying, nor even expressed any words indicating that the officer upset them.
The officer’s waning patience and exasperation is understandable as he later explains to one of the adult activists: “This is getting old real fast. Every day?”
Outrage has nonetheless ensued from the media. For instance, an article in Huffington Post‘s ‘Latino Voices’ section bears the headline: “Capitol Police Officer Raises Voice At Immigration Activists: Comprende?” The headline and article implicitly criticize the police officer (after all, why else would this be grounds for a headline or newsworthy?).
How dare a police officer raise his voice at immigration protestors?! The horror!
Did I miss the memo? Is it now acceptable to enter congressional offices in a large group and loudly chant, sing, or otherwise be disruptive? (And would chants by, say, a pro-life group outside of Nancy Pelosi’s office be granted the same leeway by the media?)
The Capital Police is now reviewing the matter. This is Obama’s America, where it is not the disruptive protestors who may be in trouble — but rather the police officer who dared ‘raise his voice’ at them.