After staying quiet since last week’s violent insurrection, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Sunday to honour two United States Capitol police officers ― one of whom died at the hands of the mob he incited.
The president ordered that “the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels ... until sunset, January 13, 2021.” The lowered flags are meant to be “a sign of respect for the service and sacrifice of United States Capitol Police Officers Brian D. Sicknick and Howard Liebengood.”
Sicknick died on Thursday after Trump-supporting rioters hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher during Wednesday’s siege of the Capitol, where lawmakers were tallying up electoral votes to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The officer later collapsed in his division office after “physically engaging” with the insurrectionist mob, according to law enforcement.
Hundreds of police officers honoured Sicknick with a moment of silence near the Capitol on Thursday night, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags at the Capitol to be lowered to half-staff on Friday. Officers with Capitol Police and Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department attended Sicknick’s funeral procession on Sunday.
Trump and the White House did not acknowledge Sicknick’s death until the proclamation on Sunday, which made no mention of the fact that Sicknick died as a result of the violence Trump incited.
An aide to Biden confirmed to ABC News on Sunday that the president-elect had spoken with Sicknick’s brother. It’s unclear whether Trump has reached out to Sicknick’s family.
Liebengood, another Capitol Police officer, died on Saturday, reportedly by suicide. The officers union said Liebengood was among the officers who responded to Wednesday’s insurrection.
“We are reeling from the death of Officer Liebengood,” union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement. “Every Capitol Police Officer puts the security of others before their own safety and Officer Liebengood was an example of the selfless service that is the hallmark of USCP. This is a tragic day.”
In addition to Liebengood and Sicknick, at least four other people are known to have died in connection with the violent siege. Police fatally shot 35-year-old Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt as she tried to forcefully enter the Speaker’s Lobby, and three other people ― Benjamin Phillps, 50; Kevin Greeson 55; and Rosanne Boyland, 34 ― all died of apparent “medical emergencies,” according to officials.
Capitol Police said Thursday that its officers were attacked during the insurrection with metal pipes, chemical irritants and other weapons when rioters violently stormed the Capitol. Videos of the siege show some officers being overwhelmed by the number of violent rioters, while others appeared to show little resistance.
Capitol Police leaders are facing criticism for the department’s apparent lack of preparedness — and, in some cases, complicity — despite dealing with plenty of demonstrations in recent months, and the plethora of evidence suggesting that the insurrection was planned. Capitol Police Chief Stephen Sund resigned on Thursday after he was publicly denounced by the police union, Pelosi and several other officials.
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