Capitol Police Vow ‘Robust’ Response to Protests at Congressional Baseball Game
WASHINGTON — Law enforcement officials are assuring the public that a robust security plan is in place to protect both members of Congress and the general public at Thursday night’s Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park.
For weeks, the protest organizer ShutDownDC has said it would shut down the game if Congress failed to take any “meaningful” action on climate change before its August recess.
In addition to orange signs posted around Capitol Hill, the group has been actively recruiting protest participants on Twitter.
“Glaciers are melting. Homes are burning. Seas are rising. And our politicians are spending their time playing games. This cannot stand. This will not stand,” said one Twitter post on Wednesday.
A retweet from a poster identified as “Now Or Never” said, “We have recruited over 100 people to shut down the Congressional Baseball Game.”
In response, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger released a statement in which he said, “We are aware that demonstrators are planning to protest political issues at the Congressional Baseball Game for charity.
“Our mission is to protect the members of Congress during this family event, so we have a robust security plan in place,” Manger said. “We urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble at the charity game to stay home. We will not tolerate violence or any unlawful behavior during this family event.”
The U.S. Capitol Police will be the primary agency protecting the members of Congress. Meanwhile, the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department will be the primary agency that will protect the general public and deal with unlawful demonstrations.
For safety reasons, both agencies declined to provide details about their security plans.
Asked about the impending protest during the House Democrats weekly press briefing on Wednesday, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said “the climate crisis is an existential threat to our way of life here in America and across the globe.”
Asked if it was appropriate for protesters to target a charity event, he continued by saying, “I understand and respect the passion of young people on this issue, my children included.
“We do need decisive action. This is a global emergency and House Democrats have acted in that regard,” Jeffries said. “We just need some cooperation from folks on the other side of the aisle, on the other side of the Capitol.
“First Amendment protest, in my view, peaceful protest, is always appropriate,” he added.
“Nobody has a problem with a peaceful protest and I agree that we do need to take action,” Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said.
“But we’re legislators. Our job is to find common ground and to continue to enact positive pieces of legislation that protect our climate, and protect our planet. We would hope that anybody who shares that sentiment and wants to make their feelings heard, would do so in a peaceful way,” he said.
Potential protests aside, Aguilar said both the Democrats and the Republicans who plan to take the field have been practicing diligently.
“This is a great event that brings Washington together and has historically been such an important fundraiser for local charities,” he said.
“You get thousands of people in the stands, heckling the chairman, heckling other members … and that’s baseball and it’s fun. That’s summer in D.C. It’s going to be fun, but we’ll have a good time out there,” he continued.
Aguilar also noted that Thursday evening’s game will be the last for departing House Members Kevin Brady, R-Texas, Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., among others.
“This is going to be their last time playing … so we hope to have a fun game for everybody,” he said.
Begun in 1909, the game eventually evolved into a foundation called Congressional Sports for Charity that supports a number of D.C.-area charities.
These charities include the Washington Literacy Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and Washington Nationals Philanthropies, along with the United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund.
This year’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m., Eastern time.
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