Police officer dies in US Capitol attack
A “heartbroken” Joe Biden is among those to have offered his condolences after US Capitol police officer William “Billy” Evans was killed in a car attack at a security checkpoint.
As tributes poured in for the officer of 18 years, described by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “martyr for our democracy”, the US president said he was ordering an investigation into the ramming attack, which left another officer injured. The suspect was shot dead.
Coming less than three months after Trump supporters violently stormed the complex, the suspect, named as Noah R Green of Indiana, was said by police to have “exited the vehicle with a knife in hand” on Friday and started “lunging” at the officers” in an attack not initially believed by investigators to be “terrorism-related”, according to the Washington Metropolitan Police Department’s acting chief.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has raged at “woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections”, and is among Republicans to call for a boycott of Major League Baseball over its decision to move its All-Star Game out of Georgia in protest against a new state bill tightening voting restrictions – labelled by critics as voter suppression targeting ethnic minorities.
My colleague Louise Hall has the details of Donald Trump’s attack on Major League Baseball.
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 11:21
Trump rants against ‘woke’ MLB
Donald Trump has delivered a written rant about “woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections”, in a statement published via the Save America PAC.
The former president is among Republicans to call for a boycott of Major League Baseball over its decision to move its All-Star Game out of Georgia in protest against a new state bill tightening voting restrictions.
Critics of the bill – who include the chief executives of Coca Cola and Delta Airlines – say it amounts to voter suppression, which targets ethnic minorities.
The new legislation, signed by Republican governor Brian Kemp, places new limitations on the number of ballot drop boxes, adds new photo ID requirements for mail-in ballots and shortens the period in which people can apply for them.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the decision to pull the game out of Georgia was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport”.
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 11:19
‘The scab got ripped off again here’: Car attack could delay easing of Capitol security
Yesterday’s deadly attack at the US Capitol’s perimeter could delay the gradual reopening of the building’s grounds to the public just as politicians were eyeing a return to more normal security measures following Trump supporters’ assault on the complex, AP reports.
As well as blocking major arteries across the city, the fencing around the Capitol – until recently partly covered in razor wire reportedly added in response to a perceived possible threat from QAnon followers – has served as a stark symbol of the fear felt by many who work there.
“It’s an eyesore, it sucks,” said the Democratic chair of the House spending committee Tim Ryan.
“Nobody wants that there. But the question is, is the environment safe enough to be able to take it down? In the meantime, maybe that fence can prevent some of these things from happening,” he said in the hours after yesterday’s attack.
Mr Ryan stressed that no decisions had been made, and that politicians would be “reviewing everything” after Friday’s breach. His committee, along with others, is looking at not only the fence but at the staffing, structure, and intelligence capabilities of the Capitol Police.
“The scab got ripped off again here today,” Mr Ryan said. “So we’ve got to figure this out.”
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 10:55
Benedict Cumberbatch wants to ‘plead’ with Biden to close Guantanamo Bay
In an interview with The Independent about his new film The Mauritanian – which dramatises Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s experiences of being held in Guantanamo Bay for 14 years without charge – Benedict Cumberbatch has said he is “going to plead” with Joe Biden to close the US military detention camp.
“It’s an atrocious own goal, I think for the free world to be incarcerating people through extraordinary rendition, torturing them and extracting confessions they think are then usable in prosecution,” he said.
“It is a really dangerous, unnecessary and ineffectual place, I think, and enough people have suffered there.”
Read the full interview, including more of his comments on Guantanamo Bay, here:
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 10:27
Biden holds first call with Ukraine’s Zelensky as Russia tensions escalate
With tensions continuing to rise between Russia and Ukraine, Joe Biden has spoken with the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since taking office more than two months ago.
The call with Mr Zelensky, who has asked for greater western support, came as US and Nato officials warned of a Russian military build-up near eastern Ukraine.
The White House said Mr Biden “affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression”.
Read Graeme Massie’s full report here:
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 10:00
Suspect appeared to be supporter of Louis Farrakhan
After the car attack suspect was named as Noah R Green, a 25-year-old from Indiana, The New York Times and other outlets reported that he had described himself as a supporter of Louis Farrakhan – leader of the so-called “Nation of Islam” group.
Mr Farrakhan is described by the Anti-Defamation League as “a notable extremist figure, railing against Jews, white people and the LGBT community”.
Citing Green’s now-deleted Facebook page, The Times reported that the suspect said he had been struggling through the last few months of the pandemic, had recently left his job and had been “faced with fear, hunger, loss of wealth and diminution of fruit”.
Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, Washington Metropolitan Police Department’s acting chief Robert J Contee, said investigators did not initially believe the attack was “terrorism-related”.
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 09:46
Lawmakers react to Capitol car attack
Here are some of the reactions from political leaders in Washington DC.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said those in the chamber “could not be more grateful” for the officers’ heroism:
And his Democratic counterpart Chuck Schumer said “we will be forever indebted” to Officer Evans.
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 09:34
Joe Biden’s full statement on yesterday’s attack
Here’s the statement from Joe Biden in full:
“Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the US Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life. We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss.
“We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it.
“I have been receiving ongoing briefings from my Homeland Security Advisor, and will be getting further updates as the investigation proceeds.
“I want to express the nation’s gratitude to the Capitol Police, the National Guard Immediate Response Force, and others who quickly responded to this attack. As we mourn the loss of yet another courageous Capitol Police officer, I have ordered that the White House flags be lowered to half-staff.”
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 09:26
‘My first thought was: not again,’ Capitol aide says
One person who works at the Capitol has said their first reactions to receiving a text informing them of the lockdown yesterday were nausea and a horrible sense of déjà vu.
“My first thought was: ‘not again,’” the aide, who works for a House Democrat and requested anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the press, told The Independent. “My second thought was that I need to find a trash can in case I throw up.”
Read more on the reaction from inside the Capitol here:
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 09:22
Over the nearly three months since a horde of pro-Trump rioters smashed through windows, assaulted police officers, and came within seconds of storming an occupied Senate chamber in their efforts to disrupt certification of the electoral college, the seat of America’s legislative branch has been the site of an uneasy peace, writes Andrew Feinberg from Washington DC.
Much of the fencing and razor wire that had surrounded the complex since the events of 6 January claimed the life of a Capitol Police officer had been removed, and while some post-insurrection security precautions – some fencing, metal detectors at the entrance to the House chamber, and National Guard troops augmenting the police – has remained a point of contention among some Republicans, the business of Congress has continued largely without disruption.
But whatever feeling of normalcy had returned to the US legislature was shattered along with the quiet of Good Friday, just after 1pm, when a dark blue vehicle slammed into a checkpoint barrier.
Andy Gregory3 April 2021 09:18