Capitol Police have come under scrutiny after stopping a children’s choir from singing the national anthem inside the U.S. Capitol.
A video of the May 26 incident has gone viral on social media, showing the moment Capitol officials approached David Rasbach, who was leading the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir in their performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The video shows a female officer in the background apparently instructing a congressional staffer to stop the singing. The staffer then approaches Rasbach, speaks into his ear, and Rasbach halts the choir.
🚨The Rushingbrook Children’s Choir sang the National Anthem in Statuary Hall. a Capitol Police officer stopped them mid-song. Capitol Police claims they didn’t stop the choir. The choir director tells the whole story in my exclusive interview here. 🚨https://t.co/ZRNbWy75la pic.twitter.com/ijiq4pw3X8
— Tyler O’Neil (@Tyler2ONeil) June 2, 2023
Rasbach, alongside Micah Rea — who organized the children’s trip from South Carolina to Virginia and Washington D.C. — explained what actually happened to The Daily Signal.
When they had arrived at the Capitol that day, the choir had been briefly stopped by Andrew Tremel, the visitor operations manager at the Architect of the Capitol, Rea told the Daily Signal.
Tremel was informed that the choir had been given permission to sing and, after speaking into his earpiece, he told them they could do so, Rea said.
Later on, when they had actually begun to sing, Rasbach said he witnessed the female officer talking to a congressional staffer and directing him to “go shut them down.” When they stopped singing, he spoke with the officer and was told that their “demonstration” wasn’t allowed.
Rushingbrook Children’s Choir were singing the National Anthem in the Capitol and were stopped by Capitol police.
They were told that “certain Capitol police said it might offend someone/cause issues.”
The National Anthem sung by children is not offensive, it’s needed more. pic.twitter.com/PvSMJdw5EZ
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) June 2, 2023
Rasbach then reportedly asked the officer: “How do you think this is going to affect these children? Their first time visiting their Capitol and then they have this disappointment.”
“She shrugged her shoulders, saying, ‘They sounded beautiful, but… They can go outside and sing,” he said of her response.
According to Rasbach, the female officer went on to claim that multiple people had complained about the offensiveness of the anthem.
Rasbach explained to the Daily Signal that the choir was given permission to sing in the Capitol by Reps. William Timmons and Joe Wilson of South Carolina, as well as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The three lawmakers have since responded to the incident online, condemning the Capitol Police and reaffirming their support for the choir group.
We recently learned that schoolchildren from South Carolina were interrupted while singing our National Anthem at the Capitol. These children were welcomed by the Speaker’s office to joyfully express their love of this Nation while visiting the Capitol, and we are all very…
— Congressman William Timmons (@RepTimmons) June 2, 2023
It is unfortunate that the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir was prevented from finishing a wonderful rendition of our National Anthem. I will be introducing a bill which permits the singing of our National Anthem on all federal property bc love for one’s country should be celebrated
— Joe Wilson (@RepJoeWilson) June 3, 2023
Just learned kids were interrupted while singing our National Anthem at the Capitol. Unacceptable.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) June 2, 2023
The Capitol Police also responded to the incident, placing most of the blame on the congressional staffer, who they labeled a liar.
“Recently somebody posted a video of a children’s choir singing the Star-Spangled Banner in the U.S. Capitol Building and wrongfully claimed we stopped the performance because it ‘might offend someone,’” Capitol Police said in a statement to the Daily Signal.
“Here is the truth. Demonstrations and musical performances are not allowed in the U.S. Capitol,” they claimed, adding: “Of course, because the singers in this situation were children, our officers were reasonable and allowed the children to finish their beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.”
They then said that the congressional staffer “lied to the officers multiple times about having permission from various offices.
“The staffer put both the choir and our officers, who were simply doing their jobs, in an awkward and embarrassing position.”
Rea and Rasbach have both responded to the statement with a fierce rebuke, with Rea calling it a “bald-faced lie.”
“You can see clearly in the video, they literally stopped him before they finished singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’” Rea said. “That is absolutely, irrefutably wrong.”
“[The female officer] did everything she could to stop us and not let us continue singing, period,” he said, adding that the staffer did nothing wrong and did not lie to Capitol Police.
“That is not true—he did not lie to anybody,” Rasbach said in response to the Capitol Police’s statement about the staffer.
The two also refuted the claim that musical performances aren’t allowed in the Capitol, pointing out that as recently as March 29 a group of 80 pastors sang in the Rotunda. Sean Feucht, a Christian pastor and singer, also held performances in the Capitol in February and March, as the Daily Signal noted.
The Capitol Police have since apologized to the choir in a separate statement to Newsweek, this time blaming the incident on “miscommunication.”
“Although popup demonstrations and musical performances are not allowed in the U.S. Capitol without the proper approval, due to a miscommunication, the U.S Capitol Police were not aware that the Speaker’s Office had approved this performance,” the statement read.
“We apologize to the choir for this miscommunication that impacted their beautiful rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and their visit to Capitol Hill.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.