The de Blasio administration is taking a zero-tolerance stance when it comes to civil servants who participated in the siege of the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 that jeopardized the safety of Vice President Mike Pence and Members of Congress and resulted in the murder of a Capitol Police Officer. The Fire and Police departments are both examining whether at least one employee of each was involved in the rioting.
Fifty police officers were injured during the mob's takeover of the Capitol Building. A Trump supporter, who was in close proximity to the Senate and House chambers was fatally shot by a Capitol Police Office, and three other civilians died of unrelated medical emergencies at the scene.
"Any New York City employee, any part of the city government who participated in an attack on our democratic institutions, who participated in an insurrection at the capital will be terminated. Period," Mayor de Blasio told reporters Jan. 11. "If we have proof that someone violently attacked our United States government, they will not be working for New York City any longer."
His admonition came days after the FDNY released a statement that it had "received anonymous allegations that active or retired members were present at the events at the United States Capitol on January 6 and, as required, has provided that information to the FBI."
On Jan. 9, the Daily News published a photo of an unidentified individual outside the Capitol building wearing a Squad 252 jacket, and quoted an anonymous source as saying there was a second "active FDNY Firefighter" photographed at the scene.
Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andy Ansbro declined comment.
His counterpart at the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, James Lemonda, said in a phone interview that while his union "supported the fundamental right for any citizen to participate and assemble in a peaceful protest," the "circumstances that occurred in the 'People's House' on [Jan. 6] were offensive to all Americans [regardless of] your political affiliation, party or the candidate you voted for."
'They'll Be Dealt With'
He cautioned, "Just because somebody is wearing an FDNY shirt dies not mean they are members of the FDNY, since you can purchase merchandise like that anywhere. But if there is a member who through your actions violated the law, it would be the UFOA's expectations that they would be dealt with by the department like any other city employee who violated the law."
Hours after the Mayor stated that city workers would be fired if they participated in the siege at the Capitol, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it intended to fire a laborer at Metro-North's rail yard in upstate Brewster who was caught on video inside the building after it was invaded.
Ironically, the video image showed Will Pepe, who had called in sick to attend the rally, using his cellphone to take a selfie inside the building. He was suspended without pay Jan. 8 as part of the process that will end with his termination, MTA spokesman Tim Minton said in a statement.
A 'Disqualifying' Act
"Participation in the riot which resulted in deadly violence at the Capitol last week was abhorrent and goes against the values of the MTA and New Yorkers," Mr. Minton said, "and those who attacked that symbol of American democracy disqualified themselves from working for the people of New York."
Federal law-enforcement officials have arrested dozens of individuals for their alleged roles in the riot. The NYPD is among the local law- enforcement agencies that have opened internal investigations into possible involvement of their employees in what has been widely described as an insurrection.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea confirmed on NY1 on Jan. 11 that the NYPD was investigating reports that an active-duty member was involved in the violent invasion of the Capitol Building, adding, "I can tell you that anyone committing crimes certainly would have a very short shelf life with the NYPD."
Similar internal probes of U.S. Secret Service members and military personnel are proceeding. According to U.S. News and World Report, two Capitol Police officer have been suspended and one arrested over allegations they helped the rioters gain access to the Capitol and navigate its interior. Several other officers are also under investigation for undisclosed reasons.
Top Officials Forced Out
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for and got the resignation of U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the exit of his House counterpart, Paul Irving.
Fire Capt. Dellon Morgan, who was just elected president of the Vulcan Society, a black FDNY fraternal group, said, "Anyone who played a role in this criminal act should be held accountable. The fact that someone is a civil servant makes such a potential violation of the law all the more deplorable."
Social-media and news-media images showed the Stars and Bars battle flags flown by the Confederacy during the Civil War being carried by Trump supporters as they pushed through Capitol officers, with one swinging the flag triumphantly once in the building.
Mr. Morgan, whose group has historically raised concerns about racism among city firefighters, was not surprised that there were so many internal investigations by law-enforcement agencies around the country.
'Didn't Happen Overnight'
"I am disheartened that it does not surprise me," he said. "My assumptions have come to reflect reality. I thought we were further along than this, but this didn't happen overnight. What started out as little weeds that could have been addressed all along have turned into oak trees."
The City Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus issued a statement saying it was "deeply troubled but frankly not surprised at the notion that individuals who serve among our city's Finest and Bravest may have participated in last week's malicious assault on the U.S. Capitol...any City worker found to be involved in the failed insurrection against our nation's government should be terminated and not permitted to return in any capacity."
Tens of thousands of Mr. Trump's supporters attended what he called a "Save America" rally near the White House, where his son, Donald Jr., his personal lawyer, ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and he delivered fiery speeches in which they repeated allegations of widespread election fraud that they were unable to provide in the numerous courts to which the President had appealed the result of the vote.
Mr. Giuliani demanded, "Let's have trial by combat." The President exhorted the crowd, "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."
He instructed them to head down Pennsylvania Ave. to Capitol Hill and said he'd accompany them, but he instead returned to to the White House and watched their assault on the Capitol on TV.
By 1:30 p.m. the angry mob had forced the badly outnumbered Capitol Police into retreat, with thousands of them then pouring into the Capitol Building, forcing both the House and Senate to suspend proceedings, while Mr. Pence and Ms. Pelosi—who are first and second in the line of presidential succession were quickly moved to safer locations in the building. Soon after, the rest of Congress, staffers and journalists were also spirited away for their safety.
Thugs Get Really Ugly
Video later surfaced of a group of rioters who had breached the Capitol chanting, "Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence," while others yelled, "Tell Pelosi we're coming for that bitch."
News photographers and cellphone cameras captured individuals in paramilitary tactical gear carrying zip ties normally used to restrain prisoners, while rioters outside the building constructed a gallows with a noose.
On Jan. 10, the Washington Post reported the arrest by the FBI of two men who had carried zip ties, one of them a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel from Texas.
In an interview with CBS News that day, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said that it was "legitimate" for investigators to ask if "conscious or unconscious bias or some political spin for the Capitol Police" played a role in that agency's inability to protect the Capitol.
'Can't Be Repeated'
"Whether they underestimated the threat or believed because they were Trump supporters they weren't going to be a problem, that was a very serious error and can never be allowed to be repeated," he said.
Mr. Chertoff, a former Federal Court of Appeals Judge and U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, 20 years ago led that state's legislature in probing longtime allegations of racial profiling by New Jersey State Police in the wake of the 1998 shooting of four unarmed young men of color on the New Jersey Turnpike by two State Troopers.
General Russel Honore told MSNBC he was "surprised the Pentagon did not have the National Guard on standby," and claimed there had been a "major failure in intelligence" by the FBI. He also raised the possibility there had been internal "complicity" somewhere within the Capitol security force.
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