Capitol Police stop youth choir during national anthem performance, sparking outrage: ‘I was shocked’
Video footage showing a South Carolina-based children’s choir being stopped by a Capitol Police officer from singing the national anthem in the U.S. Capitol has gone viral with millions of views.
Capitol Police said singers with the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir from Greenville were stopped because of a “miscommunication,” which occurred May 26.
Capitol Police initially issued a statement that said they were under the impression the group didn’t have permission to perform in the building but clarified later that they “were not aware that the Speaker’s Office had approved this performance.”
Choir director David Rasbach and another choir leader said the visit was approved by the office of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., which the speaker’s office confirmed.
“I was shocked, I was dismayed, I was stunned,” Rasbach, who said he secured permission from three congressional offices to perform at the U.S. Capitol, told the Daily Signal. “I couldn’t believe that was happening, that they would stop the national anthem, of all songs.”
Video of the event showed the children singing as a Capitol Police officer spoke with two other men. One of the men, who appears to be a congressional staffer, then approached Rasbach. A few seconds later, Rasbach motioned to the choir and cut them off to stop singing.
Some Republicans accused Capitol Police of taking action against the kids due to political bias, but the Capitol Police said that is untrue and accused the congressional staffer of lying “to the officers multiple times about having permission from various offices” in one emailed statement to the Daily Signal.
“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,’” the Capitol Police said. “Here is the truth. Demonstrations and musical performances are not allowed in the U.S. Capitol.”
“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,” the statement added. “The Congressional staff member who was accompanying the group knew the rules, yet 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.”
McCarthy and three Republican members of Congress involved in inviting the group to the Capitol issued a joint statement, saying they were “very disappointed” that the performance was cut short.
“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 disappointed to learn their celebration was cut short,” McCarthy and three House Republicans said. “We are delighted that the People’s House has been reopened particularly for our children and we look forward to welcoming more Americans back to the halls of Congress.”
Capitol Police did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.