- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2006

Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, Georgia Democrat, last night held a press conference and rally at Howard University during which her lawyers said she would not apologize for striking a U.S. Capitol Police officer Wednesday and claimed that the officer had assaulted her.

“Let me be clear. This whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman,” Miss McKinney said. “I deeply regret that this incident occurred.”

Miss McKinney awaited word yesterday on whether she would be charged, but two law-enforcement officials said it was unlikely a warrant would be issued this week. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

According to several sources, a Capitol Police officer stopped Miss McKinney after she went around the metal detectors in the Canon House Office Building, where her office is located. Members are allowed to bypass security, but apparently the officer did not recognize her and she was not wearing the lapel pin that most representatives display on their clothes.

The officer posted at the metal detectors tried to stop her, and she thumped him in the chest with her cell phone in hand, the sources said.

She has said she showed the officer her identification.

Miss McKinney “was assaulted, and because she was assaulted and placed in impending fear of her safety she responded,” said her attorney, James W. Myart Jr. He said he was not going to pursue criminal charges against the Capitol Police officer, who has not been identified, but he did not rule out a civil lawsuit after an investigation.

Miss McKinney, who spoke very little during last night’s 45-minute event, was flanked by lawyers, representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization for Women, and entertainers Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover.

Mr. Belafonte said he wanted to be sure the process was handled fairly and not rooted in any “racist behavior.”

About three dozen Georgia schoolchildren surrounded Miss McKinney, some holding signs that read: “Is Cynthia a Target?” and “Recognize Our Congresswoman.”

Miss McKinney said she has received support from other members of Congress, though none attended last night’s event.

“Other members of the Congressional Black Caucus and, quite frankly, other members of Congress have expressed concern about what happened and have also expressed concern about the repeated nature of what is happening,” she said.

Mr. Myart would not specify how or where the officer touched Miss McKinney. The attorney said he has heard conflicting accounts of videotapings of the incident but has not seen them, nor has he seen any incident reports filed in the matter.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said last night that the incident was still under investigation.

The police union yesterday issued a statement of support for the officer.

“We, the U.S. Capitol Police Fraternal Order of Police, are extremely proud of our officer,” FOP Chairman Officer Andrew Maybo said. “He has upheld his oath as an officer and has executed his duties and responsibilities in a professional manner. The officer was correct in his actions, and we support him 100 percent.”

Miss McKinney released a statement early Thursday addressed to Capitol Police saying she “regrets” what she called the “unfortunate confrontation.”

However, during yesterday’s event, the tone appeared to have sharpened.

“There is [not] — and there will not be — an apology in this case,” Mr. Myart said.

Wednesday’s incident was the fifth time Miss McKinney has had problems with security personnel when an officer failed to recognize her.

In 1993, Capitol Police posted a photo of Miss McKinney on an office wall so officers could remember who she was after she complained.

In 1995 she complained again about being stopped. In 1996 and 1998, she complained that White House security officials did not give her the same treatment as other members of Congress, at one time mistaking her 23-year-old white aide for her.

Miss McKinney, 51, is in her sixth term. She was defeated in 2002 after making comments suggesting President Bush and his friends profited from the September 11 terrorist attacks. She was returned to Congress last year and is seeking re-election in November.

Along with her statement, McKinney staffers sent along a clip from the documentary “American Blackout,” which shows a white Capitol Police officer failing to recognize the representative. On the clip, Miss McKinney says the treatment is “typical.”

Miss McKinney has been a vocal critic of the Bush administration and she made headlines in November for being one of just three lawmakers who voted to immediately withdraw troops from Iraq.

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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