Some experts defended the police, noting that the Capitol Police deals with protests, both inside and outside the building, legal and illegal, on a regular basis, but they are nothing like this.
“This isn’t what happens at the U.S. Capitol,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank in Washington. “This is completely unprecedented. This is as close to a 9/11 attack as you can think of, in that no one has ever done this before.”
Mr. Wexler said legitimate questions would be raised about why more officers were not on hand and why they did not anticipate the threat. But he laid most of the blame on political leaders who legitimize violent groups. “If the president tells his supporters, ‘This is what I want you to do,’ that could be more valuable than a thousand cops,” he said.
Chief Michel Moore of the Los Angeles Police Department said it was unrealistic to expect the police to quell “people who are hell bent on destruction.”
“They used violence against police. They attacked the sacred Capitol and the Rotunda and then used tear gas or chemical agents, and physical attacks,” he said. “And what troubles me is the first thought was, well, why wasn’t the law enforcement better prepared?”
If the Capitol Police did not anticipate violence, the city did. Mayor Muriel Bowser called in the National Guard to supplement the city’s police force and warned counterprotesters and D.C. residents to stay away from planned pro-Trump actions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Monday, the city police arrested Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, a far-right fraternity that uses street thuggery as political theater. Mr. Tarrio, who had two high-capacity firearm magazines, was wanted after bragging online about burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church during protests last month. He was released but ordered to stay out of D.C.