Security personnel at the U.S. Department of the Interior sustained “multiple injuries,” according to spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz in the Washington Post, after left-wing protesters held the agency headquarters under siege on Thursday.
Fifty-five protesters were arrested in the turmoil, the demonstration group People vs. Fossil Fuels said in a statement to the Post, concluding five days of activism in the nation’s capital by a coalition known as Build Back Fossil Free.
Many were protesting the completion of Minnesota’s Line 3 Pipeline carrying Canadian tar sands oil to Lake Superior. Begun in 2017, the project was ordered by the federal government to replace an old, corroding line.
“Interior Department leadership believes strongly in respecting and upholding the right to free speech and peaceful protest,” Schwartz told the paper. “It is also our obligation to keep everyone safe. We will continue to do everything we can to de-escalate the situation while honoring First Amendment rights.”
Scenes from the demonstrations captured by local Post Reporter Ellie Silverman and posted on Twitter are reminiscent of the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January, with unruly protesters cornering police in an effort to break through the entrance. One officer, Schwartz noted, was taken to the hospital.
Climate protesters are pushing police, trying to force their way into the Department of the Interior where other activists have made it inside in an attempt to occupy the building. pic.twitter.com/IVhvPdTAYu
— Ellie Silverman (@esilverman11) October 14, 2021
President Joe Biden and House Democrats, in partnership with select Republicans including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, were quick to label the Capitol riot a “violent insurrection,” “the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War,” and in Cheney’s words, “the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814.” A snap impeachment of an outgoing president was passed in the House, provoking a trial with fabricated evidence in the Senate. A House select committee was later formed with Cheney at the helm, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred other Republicans from the panel. Kinzinger was the exception.
Considering their interest in protests at federal buildings, even going as far as to issue subpoenas to private citizens with no involvement with the Capitol turmoil, will Cheney and Jan. 6 Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., investigate the rioters at the Department of the Interior?
Neither office responded to The Federalist’s inquiries, but history suggests they have no interest in probing widespread political violence. In fact, as the committee formed, Democrats outright rejected Republicans’ demands to probe rampant political violence throughout last year’s summer of rage, estimated to cause 66 times more damage than the single-day riot at the Capitol.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy railed against the narrow scope of the probe focused solely on the Capitol carnage, citing it as the reason for his opposition to the now-weaponized committee.
The commission, McCarthy said in a statement at its creation, “ignores the political violence that has struck American cities, a Republican Congressional baseball practice, and, most recently, the deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2, 2021.”
In April, U.S. Capitol Police officer William ‘Billy’ Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force, was killed and another officer was injured after a truck rammed a police checkpoint and its driver attacked them with a knife.
“The presence of this political violence in American society cannot be tolerated and it cannot be overlooked,” McCarthy said. “I have communicated this to our Democrat colleagues for months and its omission is deeply concerning.”