Capitol police silenced a South Carolina children’s choir during their rendition of the National Anthem in National Statuary Hall.
David Rasbach, the founder and director of the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir, had received prior written approval from three congressman — including Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — to perform five songs at the Capitol on Friday, May 26, the Daily Signal reported.
Micah Rea, founder and principal of The Rea Group and organizer of the trip, said the group received written approval from South Carolina Republican Reps. William Timmons and Joe Wilson. In addition, he had a staffer from Rep. Wilson’s office to confirm it was still approved.
Upon arriving at the Capitol that day, the choir from Greenville, South Carolina, was momentarily stopped by Andrew Tremel, the visitor operations manager at the Architect of the Capitol, but he allowed them to continue once he received approval through his earbud, the Western Journal reported.
But before the choir could finish the fourth verse of the National Anthem, a female officer instructed a staffer to tell Rasbach to end the performnance.
Video footage shows the officer talking with the staffer for more than 30 seconds. When he proceeds to walk away, she taps him on the shoulder, prompting him to shut down the perfromance.
“I was shocked, I was dismayed, I was stunned,” Rasbach told the Daily Signal. “I couldn’t believe that was happening, that they would stop the National Anthem of all songs.”
Rabach said the officer told him that the demonstration was not allowed and that people complained about its offensiveness.
In an email to the Daily Signal, the Capitol Police denied the claim that it was shut down because people were offended.
Capitol Police said, “Recently somebody posted a video of a children’s choir singing the Star-Spangled Banner in the U.S. Capitol Building and wrongfully claimed we stopped the performance because it ‘might offend someone'”:
Of course, because the singers in this situation were children, our officers were reasonable and allowed the children to finish their beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. … The Congressional staff member who was accompanying the group knew the rules, yet lied to the officers multiple times about having permission from various offices. The staffer put both the choir and our officers, who were simply doing their jobs, in an awkward and embarrassing position.
Rea and Rabach both called this an outright lie.
“That’s a bald-faced lie,” Rea, told the Daily Signal. “You can see clearly in the video, they literally stopped him before they finished singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’”
Capitol Police later released a statement apologizing for the miscommuniation in a statement to Newsweek.
“Although popup demonstrations and musical performances are not allowed in the U.S. Capitol without the proper approval, due to a miscommunication, the U.S Capitol Police were not aware that the Speaker’s Office had approved this performance,” the statement read.
However, that is simply not true. On March 29, a group of 80 pastors sang in the Rotunda.