- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 6, 2006

Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney apologized yesterday to Congress and the Capitol Police for striking an officer last week.

“I come before this body to personally express, again, my sincere regret about the encounter with the Capitol Hill police. I appreciate my colleagues who are standing with me, who love this institution and who love this country. There should not have been any physical contact in this incident,” Mrs. McKinney said on the House floor.

“I have always supported law enforcement … I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all, and I regret its escalation. And I apologize.”

Mrs. McKinney bypassed metal detectors March 29 and was stopped by a Capitol Police officer who did not recognize her. The Georgia Democrat, who was not wearing her congressional pin, struck the officer when he tried to ensure she was a member of Congress.

Mrs. McKinney initially said she regretted the incident, but did not apologize.

“There isn’t, and there will not be an apology in this case,” said Mrs. McKinney’s attorney James W. Myart Jr. after a press conference last Friday.

Several House Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, said Mrs. McKinney should apologize.

Mrs. McKinney called a meeting with the caucus Wednesday night about the issue, and numerous members told her that she should apologize.

Mrs. Pelosi reinforced her position yesterday, giving some of the strongest criticism of the incident to date.

“I can’t see any significant reason why someone would strike a Capitol Police officer. I have the highest regard for the Capitol Police, who are here every day risking their lives to protect ours and this institution,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Mrs. Pelosi said the issue has not been a distraction for Democrats, a charge Republicans made last week because the incident occurred the day Democrats rolled out their Homeland Security agenda, with members giving speeches with police officers, firefighters and security guards standing next to them.

“Is she making a personal apology to the police officer she punched or to the Democrats for mixing up their national security message?” said Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

Republicans, who had planned to vote on a resolution condemning her actions, said the apology seemed hollow coming after Mrs. McKinney blamed the incident on racial profiling.

Many black and white officers said Mrs. McKinney’s charge struck them as a person grasping at straws and a disservice that undercuts real profiling instances.

“That is not racial profiling, it’s just not,” said one officer who did not wish to be named. “If someone is coming in too fast and we don’t recognize them right off, we have to ask them for their ID — senators, representatives, it doesn’t matter.”

Reporters Matt Cella and Charlie Hurt contributed to this report.

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