House Democrat sits on Capitol steps to protest extremist threat
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) is sending a message to QAnon and right-wing extremist threats by sitting on the Capitol steps on Thursday, the date authorities warned militia groups were potentially planning another breach of the building.
“I want to make a statement to let people know, those who would threaten those of us who cherish this freedom that we have here that we refuse to allow those threats to negate our freedom,” he told The Hill.
Capitol Police and the FBI have cautioned that militia groups that took part in the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — when a group of Trump supporters attempted to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College votes — had drafted plans for a second attack on March 4.
Some conspiracy theorists have spread the idea that former President Trump will be inaugurated on that date, despite losing the November presidential election.
Green’s decision to peacefully protest comes after Congress canceled votes on Thursday. House Democrats accelerated the passage of a police reform bill on Wednesday night due to the news of credible threats emerging.
“I love my country and believe that freedom is not free,” he tweeted. “Others have made great sacrifices for the freedoms I enjoy. I refuse to surrender our nation’s Capitol to those who would abridge my freedom. Hence, as a matter of personal principle, I will be in the Capitol complex today.”
I love my country and believe that freedom is not free. Others have made great sacrifices for the freedoms I enjoy. I refuse to surrender our nation’s Capitol to those who would abridge my freedom. Hence, as a matter of personal principle, I will be in the Capitol complex today.
— Congressman Al Green (@RepAlGreen) March 4, 2021
Green said he felt he needed to take a stand against the protesters to send a message that their antics would not disrupt democracy, adding that people have lost their lives fighting for freedom in America and it needs to be protected.
“I want to send a message to those who would abridge our rights — I want to let them know that I refuse to allow them to prevent me from enjoying this freedom that I have, that I won’t surrender the freedom that I have. This means a lot to me, just to sit here and I’ve talked to several to officers who’ve come by, I see the fence with the razor wire at the top, there are troops all around the perimeter,” he told The Hill, noting the increase in security precautions since the Jan. 6 attack.
The Texas Democrat said he’s seen the impact of discrimination and doesn’t want to see the country regress, arguing that the former president’s rhetoric has furthered the country’s divide.
“If you tolerate hate you perpetuate it — anybody that tolerates hate perpetuates it,” he said. “If people penetrate it, it does not crawl back under a rock.”
Lawmakers are continuing to grapple with how to best increase security in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, and Congress is expected to continue probing how the breach of the building happened.
The Capitol Police have requested that the National Guard’s presence on the Capitol campus be extended by an additional two months amid ongoing security concerns.