United States Capitol Police Press Releases: Accountability
Capitol Dome

United States Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer
Public Information Office  
119 D Street, NE  
Washington, D.C. 20510 Immediate
(202) 224-1677  
   

Accountability
February 1, 2006

The United States Capitol Police will request that the U.S. Attorney’s Office not pursue the charge against Cindy Lee Sheehan who was arrested Tuesday Night before the President’s State of the Union address.

Mrs. Sheehan was charged Tuesday night with Unlawful Conduct after she displayed a T-shirt with an anti-war message while in the House Gallery. Subsequently she was arrested and transported to USCP Headquarters for processing.

As the Department reviewed the incident, it was determined that while officers acted in a manner consistent with the rules of decorum enforced by the Department in the House Gallery for years, neither Mrs. Sheehan’s manner of dress or initial conduct warranted law enforcement intervention. The USCP also asked Mrs. Beverly Young, to leave the gallery because of a T-shirt she was wearing. Mrs. Young did not return to the Gallery so there was no need for further police action. Neither guest should have been confronted about the expressive T-shirts.

"The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol. The policy and procedures were too vague," said Chief Terrance W. Gainer. "The failure to adequately prepare the officers is mine."

Chief Gainer met with Chairman Young and his wife to both apologize and share the Department’s plans for avoiding this in the future. A similar message has been left with Mrs. Sheehan.

The Department will work with the House Sergeant at Arms to clarify the rules of the House, and ensure that officers clearly understand the rules.

If you have any questions or concerns pertaining to this release please contact the United States Capitol Police Public Information Office at 202-224-1677.

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  Prepared by:
  Sergeant Kimberly Schneider
  United States Capitol Police
  Public Information Officer