T Nation

Rep. McKinney


#1

Any thoughts on this?

McKinney: Race sparked tiff with police
Lawmaker faces possible charges after allegedly striking officer

Friday, March 31, 2006; Posted: 9:34 p.m. EST (02:34 GMT)

Rep. Cynthia McKinney said race is a reason that she was stopped by Capitol Police on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Georgia, faces possible criminal charges for a Wednesday altercation with a Capitol Police officer, one of her lawyers said Friday that the real issues were "sex, race and Ms. McKinney's progressiveness."

In a news conference featuring actor Danny Glover and singer Harry Belafonte, McKinney said she would be exonerated and that "this whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female, black congresswoman."

She had little else to say, citing the ongoing investigation into her allegedly striking a police officer after he failed to recognize her at a security checkpoint and tried to stop her from passing.

One Republican congressman dismissed the star-studded news conference. "Rep. McKinney appearing with the star of "Lethal Weapon"? Not exactly the message you want to be sending," said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Asked Friday if Capitol Police intended to bring charges against the congresswoman, Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said only, "I know we're still investigating."

The 51-year-old legislator was surrounded by more than two dozen supporters at the Friday news conference, some carrying handwritten placards that read "Recognize our congresswoman" and "Is Cynthia a target?"

During the conference, held at historically black Howard University in Washington, civil rights attorney James Myart said his client was "assaulted" by a Capitol Police officer, whose name the department refuses to release.

"Because she was assaulted and placed in impending fear of her safety, she responded," he said. "This case has just begun and we're going to fight, and we're going to use the U.S. Constitution."

Myart said McKinney would seek a criminal investigation against the officer, and a civil lawsuit against both the officer and the Capitol Police is being explored.

However, McKinney's other attorney, Michael Raffauf, downplayed the possibility of pressing charges against the officer, saying, "Not every assault deserves to be criminally prosecuted."

Myart further called the incident racial profiling and said there was "no excuse" for Capitol Police not recognizing his client, and Raffauf said she was stopped solely because of her race, gender and politics.

"It is the job of the Capitol Police to protect members of Congress. As a part of that job, they are to know who those members are," he said. "Whenever you put a police officer out on the street, he is supposed to know his job."

Members of Congress are allowed to bypass the metal detectors and security checkpoint. They are supposed to wear a lapel pin that identifies them as lawmakers. McKinney acknowledges she wasn't wearing one when she was stopped, but concurred with Myart that police should know who she is.

"The pin is not the issue," the six-time congresswoman said. "The issue is face recognition."

Glover and Belafonte refrained from addressing the facts of the case and said they were there to support McKinney. Belafonte said he did not know what happened during the Wednesday incident but wanted to make sure the matter was handled on "a very fair and very square basis."

"We've watched her be abused in the past, and she's overcome, stood strong," the outspoken Belafonte said. "We're not going to be absent or indifferent to the fact that she may be abused again."

Added Glover, "We're not here to judge the merits of the case, but here to support our sister."

Representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and National Organization for Women also spoke on McKinney's behalf.

McKinney represents a majority black district on the east side of metro Atlanta. She was first elected in 1992, but lost the seat in 2002. She regained it in 2004.

The congresswoman, who said she has had problems with Capitol Police not recognizing her in the past, demanded and received an apology from Bill Clinton's administration in 1998 after White House guards stopped her.


#2

"Members of Congress are allowed to bypass the metal detectors and security checkpoint. They are supposed to wear a lapel pin that identifies them as lawmakers. McKinney acknowledges she wasn't wearing one when she was stopped, but concurred with Myart that police should know who she is. "

Don't know the whole story, but it sounds like the cop was well within his rights to stop her.

"She had little else to say, citing the ongoing investigation into her allegedly striking a police officer after he failed to recognize her at a security checkpoint and tried to stop her from passing."

I don't know what the cop said or did but if she truly struck him she showed incredibly poor judgement. Not the kind of person I would want representing me.


#3

Geez, those crazy police officers... trying to actually do their job and protect our elected officials and staffers. Because Lord knows they get a HUGE salary and loads of recognition for the service they provide.

I think this is a classic case of entitlement syndrome among elected officials. It's as if they forget that they're public servants... it's truly pathetic and sad.

And Danny Glover should totally know better. He used to be so damn badass.


#4

McKinney is an egocentric attention whore; she is known for becoming very petulant if she is not recognized.


#5

Imagine how the story would have been reported if the member of Congress had been a white male Republican. He'd be resigning right now. people like McKinney only pull this stuff because they have gotten used to getting a pass. Maybe when we start holding our "leaders" to a higher standard, we'll actually get respectable leaders.


#6

Her father is an even bigger nutjob. He said she lost in 2002 because of 'the Jews'. According to this guy, Jews 'bought everyone' and caused her defeat. Her victory in 2004 was obviously vindication for their outright anti-Semitism.

She's also buddies with Farrakan.

The Republicans should run ads with these three in 'em. Ought to be good for a landslide this November.


#7

as someone who works on capitol hill and is protected by these police officers everyday, McKinney is a totally out of line and it would serve her right to have the law handed to her


#8

I saw her interviewed on CNN tonight.

Everytime Wolf Blitzer asked her a direct question about the incident she changed the subject.

She didn't even bother denying that she hit the cop.

Based on that interview alone she looks like she is in the wrong here.


#9

Actually the law may be on her side. Members of Congress are not supposed to be detained or obstructed in any way, on their way to conducting business.

I don't condone her striking a cop, but I also wouldn't condone a cop grabbing her from behind. Since all the facts haven't come out yet, I guess we'll see. But part of the job description for these cops is to know who the Congressmen are, and recognize them.

I have no doubt she'll pay the price if she is found to be in the wrong.


#10

The fact is McKinney and members of Congress are suppose to wear a pin that signifies they are a member of congress.

McKinney did not have her pin on that day.

She bypassed the metal detector line and was stopped as which point she showed her congressional ID.

There is enough blame to go around on this one.

Neither of the parties involved should have let this escalate.


#11

Actually she's not required to wear her pin, although I agree she could have prevented a confrontation by wearing it. According to her public statement, she did show her ID when entering.

McKinney is on her 6th term as a Congresswoman. The capitol police are required (as part of their job description) to know every Congressman's name and face. There's no excuse for not recognizing a 6 term Congressman. Congressmen are allowed to bypass the metal detectors and slip right into the building. God forbid there is an terrorist incident in the capitol, I would expect that the Congressmen should get special consideration and protection from the capitol police. How will the capitol police protect Rep. McKinney if they don't know who she is?

I think the assumption that day was "Whoa, where the hell is this black lady going?" and not the assumption that a black woman is very likely a congresswoman. When a fat white guy in a suit breezes by the metal detector, nobody thinks Whoa, what's he doing here. In that way, there may be an element of racism in this incident.


#12

She has a new hairstyle and looks different and younger. They showed the before and after pics on CNN.


#13

According to AP she was asked to show her ID and refused. She then walked around the checkpoint and metal detector and was asked to stop multiple times before being detained.

AP - 4/4/06
"McKinney, 51, scuffled with a police officer on March 29 when she entered a House office building without her identifying lapel pin and did not stop when asked. Several police sources said the officer, who was not identified, asked her three times to stop. When she kept going, he placed a hand somewhere on her and she hit him, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "

Are you implying she was singled out?


#14

Have you ever tried memorizing the faces and names of 535 people -- just for work? Oh, of course, of course -- I'm sure some people here have jobs where they have to know A GAZILLION people and never make a mistake!

But seriously, 535 Congressmen, and the guy is suddenly a racist for not immediately recognizing one as she breezes past? This is a stretch...

Oh, and this:
"How will the capitol police protect Rep. McKinney if they don't know who she is?"

Umm... the same way that they protect every other taxpaying American citizen in the building. Wow, what a thought!


#15

I guess they all look alike?

She's been in Congress for over 10 years, so when do you think the security should start to recognize her? Like I said, that is part of their job description.

They all walk around the metal detectors. Congressmen are not required to pass through the metal detectors. Those are the rules. Going around the metal detectors could have been somebody's first clue that she was a Congressman, and maybe give her a closer look.

Like I said, if she screwed up I'm sure she will pay the price.


#16

How clever of you to ferret out Zap's subtle racism! Bravo!


#17

No it's not part of their job description. It's custom for both black and white senators, if they recognize you and you have an ID pin. In other words a courtesy not a requirement.

Going around a metal detector could also mean you have a gun that's why she was stopped.


#18

Maybe she should have peppered the cop in the face, with a shotgun blast.

Then you wouldn't think that it's any big deal.


#19

You'd make an excuse for that too I'm sure.


#20

The Hill reports that instead of finding McKinney radiant, they find her radioactive:

?There?s been a lot of eye-rolling,? said an aide to a moderate Democrat who spoke on condition of anonymity. ?The national attention it?s been getting has been unfortunate. It?s becoming a distraction.?

A Democratic strategist concurred.

?This isn?t the view of Democrats that we want to project in the tough races, one of victims and race-baiting,? the strategist said."

"She and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) no longer speak, not even to exchange greetings when encountering each other in the Capitol hallways, said two House Democratic sources. Pelosi twice turned down McKinney?s request to regain her seniority after she was defeated and then reelected in 2002 and 2004. McKinney first came to Congress in 1992."

http://thehill.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/Frontpage/040406/news4.html