Monday, April 3, 2006

Online exclusive: updated 7:06 p.m.

Two House members will introduce tomorrow a resolution to commend the U.S. Capitol Police department, which Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney accused last week of racial profiling.

“The 1,700 officers of the Capitol Police force risk their lives every day protecting constituents, staff and members of Congress,” said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican. “The right thing to do is to commend these men and women. They deserve a pat on the back, which is more appropriate than what they’ve gotten lately.”

The resolution, by Mr. McHenry and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, which could be voted on this week, comes after increasingly harsh accusations by Mrs. McKinney, the Georgia Democrat who was stopped by Capitol Police last week for bypassing a metal detector.

Also, the Capitol Police today requested an arrest warrant for Mrs. McKinney over the incident. A representative for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which must approve an arrest warrant, said officials were considering whether to file charges.

No warrant had been issued as of this afternoon. A felony charge of assaulting a police officer carries a maximum five-year sentence in the District.

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, said only that the department “has referred its investigative findings to the United States attorney.”

Members of Congress are not required to go through the metal detectors at Capitol entrances, but officers did not recognize her because she had recently changed her hairdo and wasn’t wearing the member’s pin that identifies her.

Once stopped, Mrs. McKinney swatted the officer with her cellular phone.

“This whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman,” Mrs. McKinney said during a press conference last week at Howard University. “I deeply regret that this incident occurred, and I am certain that after a full review of the facts, I will be exonerated.”

She was “just a victim of being in Congress while black,” said her attorney, James W. Myart Jr. “Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, like thousands of average Americans across this country, is, too, a victim of the excessive use of force by law-enforcement officials because of how she looks and the color of her skin.”

Mrs. McKinney continued her defense with a press conference earlier today in Atlanta.

“Racial profiling is a well thought out and planned attack on black political leaders,” Georgia state Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam. “It’s going from the gold dome down to the White House. It’s happening, and it’s wrong.”

Mr. Diaz-Balart said the police should be commended rather than condemned.

“Every day, they exhibit honor, courtesy and professionalism,” he said. “This resolution highlights and thanks the hardworking Capitol Police for the work they do in maintaining security around the Capitol for all members of Congress, staff and visitors.”

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