Skip to content

On Looking Menacing

1. On The Balustrade

It was long ago, it was summer, and it was Saturday. The air was warm, the sky was blue, and the sun was shining. I grabbed a backpack and caught the Metro to the Mall.

From Metro Center, I walked to the Capitol. I climbed the steps to where you can look out on the people and the grass and museums and monuments and memorials. I stood there gazing for a while and then got out a book and hopped up on the balustrade. 

Within moments, a Capitol Police officer arrived. “What do you think you are doing?” he snarled. 

I hopped down.

2. On The Senate Floor

The thugs pushed over barriers. They scrambled up walls. They broke into the Capitol. They pounded on doors. The broke glass windows. They brought pepper spray and weapons. They called for the hanging of the Vice President. They occupied congressional offices. They broke into the Senate and House of Representatives. They looted. 

Let’s just say that upon reflection, I can only conclude that those officers looking out for the Capitol were, are, … I don’t know how to say this, but you know what I’m wanting to say.

That police force seems, in retrospect, to be just a wee bit selective in how they project their snarling.

I know. That’s not charitable. It’s not fair. It ignores very significant differences. But I’m just sayin’…

A quiet, dark skinned guy with a book needs to be kicked off the balustrade. But armed, insurrectionist thugs are …

Ok, I’m not sayin’.

3. On The Senate Floor, Take 2

Let’s take this from a different angle.

From The New Yorker’s summary

One man, clad in a combat helmet, body armor, and other tactical gear, was among the group that made it to the inner reaches of the building. Carrying zip-tie handcuffs, he was captured in photographs and videos on the Senate floor…

There were photographs of him. Not quietly reading a book, but wearing a helmet and body armor. Not sitting in the sun, but holding zip-tie handcuffs.

Reflecting on the optics of it, he later said,

I know it looks menacing. That was not my intent.

Interesting. Somehow I don’t think that response would have gone over well with Officer Friendly years ago when I was on the balustrade.

I know that the dude in the photo is dealing with consequences that make my hopping down from the balustrade seem trivial. But it’s not the consequences I’m talking about. It’s the police force.

What did they think might happen with that crowd? What on earth were they thinking they were supposed to do? Did they do no planning? No wonder their leadership has resigned.