War protesters spray graffiti on U.S. Capitol; police ordered to make no arrests


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to order an investigation into some 300 activists who protested the Iraq war by spray painting "anarchist symbols" on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building as federal police watched.

According to The Hill newspaper, numerous capitol police officers were angered when ordered by their superiors to back off of their security line and allow the protesters to reach the steps of the capitol.

An anonymous source cited by The Hill, said police had contained the crowd to a nearby street, but were ordered to redeploy in front of the capitol and to not arrest anyone.

According to the newspaper, the sources said no-arrest orders were made by U.S. Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse and Deputy Chief Daniel Nichols. 

"They were the commanders on the scene," an anonymous source told The Hill. "It was disgusting."

In an e-mail response to the capitol-area newspaper the next day, Morse defended the action saying they avoided a deliberate attempt at confrontation by the protesters.

"While there were minor instances of spray painting of pavement by a splinter group of anarchists who were seeking a confrontation with the police, their attempts to breach into secure areas and rush the doors of the capitol were thwarted," Morse said. "The graffiti was easily removed by the dedicated (Architect of the Capitol) staff, some of whom responded on their day off to quickly clean the area.

"It is the USCP's duty and responsibility to protect the Capitol complex, staff and public while allowing the public to exercise their First Amendment rights … at the end of the day, both occurred without injury to protestors or officers."

Perkins bemoaned what he termed a double standard, stating that the war protest was heavily covered despite drawing just 10,000 participants. Organizers for the protest hoped to draw 100,000 people, but according to Newsday, police—who no longer issue official crowd estimates—privately indicated the crowd was smaller than 100,000. Despite the widespread coverage, Perkins said few news agencies reported on the vandalism to the capitol.

"What a difference an ideology makes," Perkins said Jan. 29 in his regular Washington Update column. "Last Monday, (Jan. 22) 200,000 pro-lifers descended on the nation's capital to peacefully protest 34 years of abortion-on-demand. Despite record crowds and a line-up of speakers that included President Bush by phone, the March for Life earned little more than a footnote in the nation's news."

Perkins called on Pelosi to use the capitol complex surveillance tapes to prosecute those who spray-painted the facility, which he called "arguably the world's greatest symbol of democracy."  

"Unlike last Monday's peaceful pro-life protest, this mob of liberals was given access and leniency to commit criminal acts on government property," he said. "This special treatment is unacceptable."