Rep. Cynthia McKinney and a police officer scuffled Wednesday after the Georgia Democrat entered a House office building unrecognized and refused to stop when asked, according to U.S. Capitol Police.
McKinney, a sixth-term congresswoman who represents suburban Atlanta, struck the officer according to one account, a police official said, adding there were conflicting accounts. The officer, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the incident, spoke only on condition of anonymity.
No charges were filed, police said.
McKinney issued a statement Wednesday night saying she regretted the confrontation.
“I know that Capitol Hill Police are securing our safety, and I appreciate the work that they do. I have demonstrated my support for them in the past and I continue to support them now,” she said.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said only that senior officials have been made aware of the incident and are investigating.
Members of Congress do not have to walk through metal detectors as they enter buildings on the Capitol complex. They wear lapel pins identifying them as members.
McKinney routinely doesn’t wear her pin and is recognized by many officers, the police official said, adding that she wasn’t wearing it when she entered a House office building early Wednesday.
‘A confrontation ensued’
By one police account, she walked around a metal detector and an officer asked her several times to stop. When she did not, the officer tried to stop her, and she then struck the officer, according to that account.
In her statement, McKinney said most members of Congress expect Capitol police to recognize them. “I was urgently trying to get to an important meeting on time to fulfill my obligations to my constituents. Unfortunately, the police officer did not recognize me as a member of Congress and a confrontation ensued,” she said. “I did not have on my congressional pin but showed the police officer my congressional ID.”
McKinney was defeated in 2002 after she implied on a talk radio program that the Bush administration might have had advance notice of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. She won back the seat two years later with 64 percent of the vote.
Republicans circulated an e-mail noting that McKinney’s party the same day announced an election-year “affirmation” of their commitment to shoring up the nation’s security.
“On a day when the Democrats unveil their national security agenda, it’s probably not a good idea to allegedly strike a police officer,” said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.
Hank Johnson, a DeKalb County, Ga., commissioner who is running against McKinney in this year’s Democratic primary, said voters “must hold Ms. McKinney accountable for her continued pattern of irresponsible and reckless behavior.
“For years, it’s the people of the Fourth District who have suffered and been shortchanged because of our representative’s behavior in Congress,” Johnson said. “It’s why she is ineffective in Congress.”