Capitol Riot

The Capitol Riot, Qualified Immunity, and Politics as Usual

Objections to police reform are often more rooted in partisan knee-jerk reactions than in sensible policymaking.


This week we learned that at least two U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and up to 15 are under investigation for inappropriate conduct during the January 6 insurrection that saw a violent mob storm the Capitol building in protest of Congress certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election.

Of those on leave, one officer took a selfie with rioters, while the other donned a Make America Great Again hat and appeared to give out directions. The riot resulted in five deaths, including that of Officer Brian D. Sicknick as well as a woman who was fatally shot.

The USCP has weathered heavy criticism for being ill-prepared for the planned insurrection, though it's worth noting that several officers attempted to hold off the crowd. A viral video shows Officer Eugene Goodman diverting rioters away from the Senate floor. Capitol cops were trampled, struck with clubs, and attacked with chemical irritants as some protesters chanted "Hang Pence" and "Where's Nancy?" There's something deeply ironic about a group of insurrectionists colluding with a few cops and stampeding over others in order to keep a president in power who has made "backing the blue" and "law and order" two hallmarks of his tenure.

"The [United States Capitol Police (USCP)] Department has been actively reviewing video and other open source materials of some USCP officers and officials that appear to be in violation of Department regulations and policies," said Acting Chief of Police Yogananda Pittman in a statement. "Our Office of Personal Responsibility will investigate these behaviors for disciplinary action, up to, and including, termination."

Another officer is under investigation by the Secret Service after she took to social media on January 7 to characterize lawmakers who voted to certify the election results as "committing treason" in real time. "Good morning patriots!" she wrote. "Yesterday started out beautiful and as usual Antifa soured the mood and attacked police and an Air Force veteran was murdered….It's OFFENSE time finally!!" A handful of off-duty cops were caught participating in the riot itself.

In the immediate aftermath, a slew of politicians released statements condemning the insurrectionists and thanking law enforcement, many of whom are certainly deserving of that thanks. But lawmakers must also wrestle with an uncomfortable reality: It seems those two groups are not entirely mutually exclusive.

How should legislators respond? As it so often goes, objections to police reform are frequently more rooted in partisan knee-jerk reactions than in evidence or in the needs of constituents. One example where lawmakers should, in theory, have common ground: qualified immunity, the legal principle that makes it notoriously difficult to hold cops accountable when they violate your civil rights. A majority of the American public supports making changes to the doctrine, which prevents victims from suing officers unless their alleged misconduct has been outlined almost identically in a previous court precedent.

Some in Congress have attempted to make that change, including former Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.), who introduced the first bill to abolish qualified immunity, and Sen. Mike Braun (R–Ind.), whose bill would have rolled the doctrine back significantly. Both of those efforts landed in the legislative graveyard that has come to define America's governance.

Yet it's worth considering how qualified immunity may or may not help the rogue cops who chose party over country January 6, and how that information might impact future reform discussions.

"Let's assume we've got a really clear-cut case where one of these Capitol police officers actively collaborated with elements of the mob in such a way that facilitated their ability to enter the Capitol and engage in misconduct," says Clark Neily, vice president for criminal justice at the Cato Institute. "The first question would be, were you a person whose civil rights were violated as a result?"

That hypothetical suit would be "an interesting challenge" here, he notes, in that it requires "somebody who could plausibly allege they suffered some harm as a proximate result of this collaboration." That would usually require pinpointing a "documentable" repercussion: "That normally means a physical injury, but not always," says Neily.

Making an emotional distress claim isn't unheard of, although if past case law is any indication, such an officer would likely be shielded by qualified immunity. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Court awarded the legal protection to a prison guard after he unshackled an inmate and hid as the prisoner raped a nurse at the Delnor Community Hospital in Geneva, Illinois. Two patients brought the suit after claiming to have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the guard's professional negligence and cowardice.

Perhaps it's unlikely that a member of Congress will come forward with new evidence of bodily harm and a corresponding lawsuit, but the events last week provide another reminder that stale partisan talking points are failing the American people in practice. Almost eight months have passed since the death of George Floyd galvanized a national conversation around accountability in law enforcement, particularly as it relates to qualified immunity—though, on the federal level, the status quo remains.

Liberals have historically been more amenable to such reform. But even as the U.S. enters a new legislative session with Democrats controlling both Congress and the presidency, an overhaul of qualified immunity is hardly a guarantee.

"Both parties are more or less equally beholden to the law enforcement lobby," says Neily. "Police, prosecutors, and prison officials have worked very, very hard to establish the current status quo—and they like it." In other words, politics as usual.

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Capitol Riot Police Police Abuse Qualified Immunity

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114 responses to “The Capitol Riot, Qualified Immunity, and Politics as Usual

  1. The video accompanying this article is yet another example of horribly slanted “reporting.” It’s a 3 minute 11 second video whose accompanying narrative is completely opposite of what is happening.

    First, the person assisting the officer outside of the Capitol is labeled as “Rioter.” Really? At no time during the video did this person do anything unlawful, violent, or even impolite.

    Second, the person in the video was trying to help the officer accomplish his stated goal, which at the moment was to rescue a group of trapped officers and get them to safety. He even asked at 0:37, “How can we help you take control of what you’re doing?”

    The officer must be a very smart guy—understanding that the MAGA hat would be sort of a passport was a brilliant piece of work. He wore it while talking with the protestors and while wading thru the crowd on the steps and in the building, he then took it off so that he would be recognized by his fellow officers who were in gas masks (it’s not easy to see out of a gas mask), then he put it back on just as he went thru the door, leading the group of officers out of the building and away from the protestors.

    Under other conditions, both the officer and the protestor with the megaphone would be receiving awards from the Mayor at banquet.

    Under these conditions (the Palace Guard failed to protect the Royal Court from the peasants, so Heads Must Roll), the officer will be vilified and terminated and the protestor will be accused of Crimes Against The State.

    1. Nope. Sooner or later someone will look past the MAGA hat and see that the officer is, in fact, Black, and could therefore never support Trump. If he’s in fact wearing a MAGA hat, it must be with ironical intent.

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    3. It’s called gaslighting… and this former libertarian publication is purposefully doing it to us.

      1. So, fuck off and don’t spend time hanging out here.

        1. You sure are being cunty to everyone ever since you were outed as a middle school dropout.

          I bet you can hardly wait to start reporting all us badthinkers who mocked you to the gestapo when it’s reformed.

          1. “I bet you can hardly wait to start reporting all us bad-thinkers who mocked you to the Gestapo when it’s reformed.”

            I has already been reformed … mid 2016 by the Obama Administration.

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  2. Keep in mind that all those insurrectionists are inbred slack-jawed yokels with IQs in the single digits who are easily swayed by Trump’s command to go kill all the Democrats so you can’t really hold them responsible for their actions since they’re all barely-functional retards. Plus, every last one of them are Nazis and white supremacists which proves their retardedness even more. If they were smarter, they’d be Communists like all of us smart people are.

    1. Correction: Trump was also encoruraging the rioters to kill Pence and other disloyal Republicans.

      1. How come you keep peddling your lies, while refusing to provide one iota of proof to back up your insidious narrative?

        For the millionth time White Knight, what did Trump say that .”encoruraged” (lol) the protesters to kill Pence and other disloyal Republicans?
        Spit it out, you disingenuous troll. There’s a million transcripts online you can copy and paste from.

        1. Fuck off. I’m past playing rhetorical games with deplorable assholes like you. You suck as a human being.

          1. My my Dee. Such language.

          2. “rhetorical games”

            Everyone can see you’re refusing to answer straightforward, valid questions, you totalitarian bootlick. You’re not fooling anyone.

            Now provide the quote to back up your insane lies, or fuck off.

          3. “This boot is actually pretty tasty!”

        2. “How come you keep peddling your lies, while refusing to provide one iota of proof to back up your insidious narrative?”

          ‘Cos it’s working.
          Herr Goebbels showed them how …

    2. I can only imagine you’re being sarcastic. But damn, son, until the very end it was impossible to tell. Truth hurts hard, huh?

  3. It is a difficult question. Perhaps we need to stage a few more MPPs (Mostly Peaceful Protests) to clarify the situation.

    1. Trump worshipping asshole.

        1. I’d feel sorry for WK if I cared.
          Instead, it is the funniest thing I ever saw.

          1. She’s gone full clown world. Nothing to do but laugh.

  4. I can guarantee democrats won’t give up those powers, and anyone who thinks they will are credulous fools.

    1. The whole point of Covid, the summer riots and the Reichstag fire was to gain those powers. They’re certainly not going to give them up again after all that hard work.

    2. If it weren’t for hyperbolic fear mongering the right wouldn’t have much of a platform these days. Are people supposed to seriously be afraid that a guy with a 50 year track record of moderation is going to turn us into Venezuela? If not, there really is nothing the right has even tried to offer. And there is nothing but Alex Jones-style bullshit to suggest that Biden has a truly leftist agenda. We finally have a guy in office who wants to make America a better place and people fall back on Chinese scare mongering in order to justify the destruction of rules and norms and common decency under Trump. If America can’t first and foremost be decent there is nothing to even really hope for.

  5. I really don’t understand. The BLM mostly peaceful protests over the past 9 months resulted in about $1,200,000,000 damage and multiple deaths. None of those demonstrations were called a riot by Mr. Binion.
    The Capitol riot, carried out by unarmed rioters resulted in one killed by gunfire – an unarmed rioter – and one police officer killed by a thrown fire extinguisher. Total number of unarmed insurrectionists is probably less than 200 out of a crown of perhaps 200,000, and damage inflicted on the Capitol probably about $40,000 at inflated government repair costs. Nothing burned, only some furniture looted, and mostly broken glass and doors. Some truly awful graffiti.
    We live in a world where terrible acts can be ignored and others, less awful, condemned.
    All of those acts should be condemned, and if the one was a riot then they all were.

    1. My newspaper assures me the Capitol was “ransacked.” They didn’t, however, show any photos contrasting the Capitol with, say, a local Target that was actually ransacked this summer.

      1. Nothing quite shows how fucking stupid and hypocritical you incels are as the whataboutery.

        1. Pretty clever riposte…for a 4th grader.

        2. Not all of us can be as mature and evenhanded as you, obviously well sexed person.

        3. Wait till they trot out John Sullivan, the one antifa guy in the rioting mob, as proof it wasn’t a MAGA crowd.

          1. But Robby just swore that there wasn’t any Antifa there, and you said Antifa was just an idea.

            1. I’ll take “Things the White Knight Has Never Said” for $1000, Alex.

              1. Lol, you’re going to make me dig that up, huh.
                Okay, you said it several times and I have a rough idea where.

        4. FYI
          Screaming “whataboutery” doesn’t absolve you of hypocrisy.

      2. Your lack of concern that an insurrectionist mob stormed the Capitol building noted.

        1. Your hypocrisy noted. Again.

        2. So is The White Knight our comment section’s very own Herr Goebbels or is he our Julius Streicher?
          Both made it their mission to use the Reichstag fire to foment hatred and encourage totalitarianism.

          1. Fuck off.

            1. Streicher then. Goebbels swore less.

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    3. Huh, here’s this article from Binion with subtitle: “ Riots have raged in the city in response to Floyd’s death.”

      Took me about three minutes to find.

    4. Yeah, let’s just gloss over that they were trying to overthrow the election by force by invading a session of Congress.

        1. Do You Really Think White Knight Would Do That? Just Go On the Internet and Tell Lies?

          I’m sure White Knight must have a full quote that totes demonstrates his nutty ranting allegations.

          1. Ah, here’s on of your alt-tight jerk buddies now.

            1. Your pudgy little fists must be pounding the table with white hot rage right now. I wish I could see it.

              Anyway, you little fascist goblin, where’s R Mac’s cite?

              1. “Oh, it’s here somewhere … prolly with the “Fine People” quotes … lemme go on to find some …”

        2. Fuck off. Go circle jerk with a bunch of your alt-right chums.

          1. Damn, so angry. You really should consider taking a break.

            1. Gosh, why would I be angry with the alt-right… oh, yeah, their attempt to seize the Capitol on the day the election results are finalized.

              Fuck off.

              1. Yeah when that guy in the costume sat in Nancy’s chair the federal government was on the verge of collapse. I was terrified that they’d close Yosemite and cut off my dad’s social security. Thank god there was a cop there to shoot a woman in the face.

              2. their attempt to seize the Capitol on the day”

                Oh my heavens, did that happen before or after the 300 completely unarmed guys wandered through a government building that hosts a detachment of 2000 armed officers.

                I bet they had tanks and machine guns and even pointed sticks, because nobody would dream of taking such a well guarded building with some flags and red hats as weapons.

              3. Ya know … you Proggie Assholes are really miserable when you cheat and win …

    5. Welcome to 1984, the Year of the Gaslight.

  6. “There’s something deeply ironic about a group of insurrectionists colluding with a few cops and stampeding over others in order to keep a president in power who has made ‘backing the blue’ and ‘law and order’ two hallmarks of his tenure.”

    Zealotry is fertile ground for irony.

    1. Zealotry is when you handwave away two separate assaults on the White House, the burning down of federal buildings, and an assault on the Senate chambers in the last 14 months; but call a bunch of idiots playing ‘Follow the Leader’ and meandering into and out of the Capitol, an insurrection.

      Hey, hypocrite. Why were “mobs storming the capital” to interrupt proceedings, cool with you over the last four years, but not on Wednesday?

      Stupid fucking zealot.

      1. What in the world are you babbling about?

        I guess your Canadian, so it’s excusable you don’t know the difference between “the capital” and “the Capitol building”. (Or you do know the difference, and you are fudging on it to put words in my mouth.)

        1. Who’s going to explain what quotation marks are to WK… and maybe point out to the fucking moron that when I didn’t use them, I spelt it “Capitol”. Right there, in the very same comment.

          He couldn’t answer the argument so he tried to pettifog, and fucked it all up because he doesn’t understand quotation marks.

          This is exactly what happened with his water fiasco.

          1. I can hardly wait to see how the little retard covers his ignorant ass on this one. And he was so pompous about it too.

    2. You wouldn’t know irony if it was pounding you in the ass with no lube, leftist trash.

      1. I guess anybody to the left of zip tie handcuffs for Pence guy is a “leftist”.

        1. No but you are.

          1. Thank you, Pee Wee Herman.

            1. Hey White Knight, what did the guy with the zip-ties do besides hang up a few flags? It must’ve been terrible because you keep bringing him up, it couldn’t have been as asinine as nothing at all…

              So what did he do?

        2. The prosecution admits the zip tie guy is mentally ill and a heavy drug user. No evidence he was part of an insurrection and they don’t really know why he had zip ties. Pure speculation.

          1. He was hanging flags with them. It’s on video.

            1. Thanks. I’ll google the vid.

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  8. “How should legislators respond?”

    By outlawing “hate speech,” eliminating the Electoral College, letting anyone vote however and whenever they like without any proof of who they are and where they live, passing reparations and the Green New Deal, federalizing all law enforcement, confiscating all civilian owned firearms, making everyone wear a mask for a hundred days (and then, we’ll see)?

    Do I win your Libertarian prize now, Bunion?

    1. Glad you could get all your paranoia out.

      1. Yeah, now peeing Russian hookers on the other hand…

  9. “The riot resulted in five deaths, including the fatal shooting of a woman and the killing of Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who was bludgeoned in the head with a fire extinguisher.”

    Bull shit. Where’s the video? A rioter beat a cop to death with a fire extinguisher in the middle of the most recorded “Riot” in history and there is no video or photos to corroborate it?

    The only people attending the inauguration are 25,000 troops who were ordered to be there. Does that sound like the result of a free & fair election to you?

    1. For the most Free & Fair election in human history, they’re sure acting like they just enacted a coup.

      The criminalization of anyone who questions the results, and the near constant gaslighting, censorship, propaganda and demonizing, indicates that they might not believe the election really was on the up and up themselves.

      1. Fuck off, eh.

        1. “Shut up” White Knight explained.

          Don’t worry WK, I’m sure you’ll have an OGPU to snitch to soon enough.

    2. Video or it didn’t happen, eh? Never mind the corpse.

      1. Oh, I thought you believed she deserved it?

    3. Yeah a cop with pre existing conditions died sometime later. No evidence he was bludgeoned.

    4. They say the fire extinguisher was thrown. Any idea why it was thrown, and why this person got in the way of it? Could it be they were extinguishing a fire, and passing extinguishers around? Or someone was disposing of an empty one after discharging it?

    5. I’ve seen video of someone throwing an extinguisher at the cops, not bludgeoning.

    1. Pay attention, cultists. You’ve been the mark all along. There it is in black and white: the election fraud story was made up. Fake news.

      Stop being such gullible, self important morons, and listen to your betters. You’re not doctors, you’re not lawyers, you’re not scientists. But you thought your opinions were better than their knowledge.

      And that’s how you ended up getting played by a c list grifter reality tv host. Now the GOP is permanently on its back heel, no one with an ounce of social or political capital will let you guys around, and the whole world regards you as traitors to your country and your own principles.

        1. The shoe fits.

          1. It doesn’t. You lefties just don’t know what the word means.

            Kinda like how you don’t know what the composition of water is.

            1. Or what quotation marks signify.

              1. If there was a show of highlight reels of stupidity Dee would be the star.

      1. Sic George Soros’s billion dollar legal team on some glorified bloggers and they fold like laundry. Imagine that.
        They even published the lawyer’s statement verbatim.

        The chairman of the board of Dominions parent company also works for Soros’s Open Society Foundations, and Dominion Voting just happens to share an office with Soros’s Tides Foundation. Same photocopiers, fax machines, everything.
        But pointing all that out is a bridge too far, in our post-coup world.

    2. Could be americanthinker doesn’t have deep enough pockets to defend a frivolous lawsuit from Dominion. This shit happens every day.

      1. The truth is always an easy and unbeatable defense against charges of libel. Unless the truth is not on your side.

        Stop making excuses. If nothing else, this should have you all reevaluating your judgement as to which sources of news are truthful. In this case, the seditious thinker is clearly unable to defend their news stories as being truthful. That should disqualify them, and any other source you saw running this story (Breitbart, info wars, oann, etc) as being legitimate sources of information.

        1. American Thinker folded, not the writers. They’re standing by their stories.
          When you’re up against the world’s most expensive legal team backed by Soros’s deep pockets, sometimes your integrity gives way to fear.

          1. DOL fantasizes of the day when a Soros associate hires him to mow down Americans with an Apache helicopter. Of course he supports powerful people shutting down speech.

  10. “The riot resulted in five deaths” — EIGHT!!!! My Cat died of old age, my dog who was stepped on, and my horse was insulted and died later of a heart-attack.. EIGHT DAMMIT!!! NOT ‘just’ five!

    Our Democratic National Socialism is under attack!!!!

    1. Fuck off.

      1. Have you considered therapy? You seem very upset lately.

      2. What’s wrong? Don’t you like it when those ‘others’ play YOUR game with you?

      3. The idea of his beloved Democratic National Socialism coming under attack makes White Knight very angry.

  11. At least they were calling it a riot, although it morphed quickly into “insurrection”. Today I read on CNN that it was a “domestic terror attack”.

    I guess there were a few unused pipe bombs and enough Molotov cocktails for an hour’s worth of mostly peaceful protesting, but that would make it at most an “attempted domestic terror attack”.

    1. It’s only domestic terror if the hoi polloi do it. Otherwise it’s legitimate protest.

  12. Staged event. Acting was pretty bad

Comments are closed.