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Cynthia McKinney Faces Arrest For Slugging Cop

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., center, walking down the steps of the House side of the U.S. Capitol after the last scheduled vote of the day Thursday, March 30, 2006 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

McKinney faces arrest over security incident

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill police are expected to seek an arrest warrant next week for Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, who was involved in a physical confrontation with a Capitol police officer Wednesday, police and legal authorities said Thursday.

Officially, the investigation of the incident, in which the DeKalb County Democrat allegedly struck a police officer who tried to stop her from going around a security checkpoint, is ongoing, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, spokeswoman for Capitol Hill police.

However, police have notified the federal prosecutor’s office in Washington that they will be seeking an arrest warrant after the investigation is complete next week, said police and legal authorities, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because the investigation was not yet complete.

McKinney ignored a reporter’s questions Thursday as she walked into the Capitol, before word of the planned arrest warrant. She could not be reached for comment later Thursday.

In a statement released Wednesday, McKinney said, "I deeply regret that the incident occurred."

McKinney’s office said she may hold a news conference today in Washington.

The U.S. attorney’s office must approve any warrant before police can take it to a judge for final approval. The prosecutor’s office also would have to notify the Justice Department because the warrant would involve a sitting member of Congress.

Charges could range from assault on a police officer, a felony carrying a possible five-year prison term, to simple assault, which is a misdemeanor, police and legal officials said.

Capitol Hill police have viewed a security camera videotape of the incident, which occurred in a House office building around 9 a.m. Wednesday. However, one official familiar with the tape said it doesn’t clearly show what happened.

The tape, the official said, only shows McKinney walking around the security checkpoint, which members of Congress are allowed to do. It does not show her confrontation with the officer who, not recognizing McKinney as a member of Congress, tried to stop her and have her go through the metal detector. McKinney acknowledged that she was not wearing the special lapel pin given to the 435 House members to make them easier to identify.

Andy Maybo, head of the Capitol Hill chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, praised the officer involved in the incident, who has not been identified.

The police union, he said, was "extremely proud of our officer. He has upheld his duties and responsibilities in a professional manner," Maybo said. "He was correct in his actions and we support him 100 percent."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), talking to reporters Thursday, called the incident "a mistake," and said she hoped the police and McKinney could settle the dispute.

Pelosi said it was understandable that an officer who didn’t recognize a member of Congress would try to stop her from going around a checkpoint. But she added, "I can also understand that members who have been here a long time think they’re recognizable. I wouldn’t make a big deal of this."

Back home in McKinney’s district, DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson, who plans to challenge her in this year’s election, said the incident was just further evidence that she was undeserving of her office.

"For years, it’s the people of the 4th District who have suffered and been shortchanged because of our representative’s behavior in Congress," Johnson said in a statement. "It’s why she is ineffective in Congress."

But a number of people at South DeKalb Mall in the heart of McKinney’s district Thursday remained largely supportive.

"She is a good woman," said Andrew Hicks of DeKalb County. "I will always support her, 100 percent."

Fred Maxwell, also of DeKalb, agreed.

"Had she been one of the white persons, they would not have asked for her ID," he said. "I still think the Republicans are trying to get her out of office."

Steven McGhee of Atlanta said McKinney "damaged herself" in the incident, but he’s not counting her out.

"She lost her composure," he said. "But she will probably bounce back. I would vote for her, because she is a fighter."

Wednesday’s incident was not the first time a Capitol Hill police officer failed to recognize McKinney as a member of Congress. Her office on Thursday posted on her Web site a clip from a documentary, "American Blackout," that features one such encounter.

The clip first shows a black police officer recognizing McKinney and welcoming her back to Congress in 2005, when she returned after a two-year hiatus because of a 2002 re-election defeat. It then shows a white officer approaching her and the filmmakers as they enter the Capitol grounds, asking McKinney and the crew to identify themselves. Told that McKinney is a member of Congress, the officers backs off and starts apologizing.

"That’s just the typical kind of treatment that I receive," McKinney says on camera. "So I’m not surprised and I’m not offended."

In what she says is a quote from the late hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur, she adds, "Some things never change."

I wonder what would happen to me if I slugged a cop?

But aren’t people like McKinney always saying that our leaders should be held to an even higher standard?

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, March 31st, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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