A video went viral on social media showing a children’s choir singing the national anthem in the U.S. Capitol, but they were abruptly cut off by police.
The Capitol Police explained that there was a miscommunication, as musical performances in Congress require permission, which the officers were unaware of.
The police denied the claim that the performance was stopped due to potential offensiveness. The choir leaders, David Rasbach and Micah Rea, collaborated with the offices of Republican Representatives William Timmons, Joe Wilson, and Russell Fry from South Carolina to obtain permission for the performance. They were informed that the visit was approved by the office of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California.
After taking photos at Wilson’s office, the choir group toured the Capitol and ended up in Statuary Hall, known for its collection of state-donated statues, where they began their performance.
A guide asked if they had permission, and they were told to wait for confirmation. The video shows the children finishing the first verse of the anthem amid applause.
However, an officer approached the choir leaders, and a staffer for Wilson instructed them to stop singing. When asked why, the Capitol Police said it was because the performance was considered a demonstration, which is not allowed in the Capitol.
According to Rasbach, a Capitol Police officer mentioned concerns about potential offense, but Rasbach couldn’t provide further details or confirm the officer’s identity.
Initially, Capitol Police stated that they believed the group didn’t have permission to perform in the Capitol. However, they later issued a second statement acknowledging a “miscommunication” and clarifying that they were unaware of the Speaker’s Office approving the performance.
The Capitol Police’s policy, as posted on their website, specifies that musical performances, along with demonstrations, commercial filming or photography, and foot races, require a special permit.
In a second statement, the Capitol Police acknowledged that there was a miscommunication, and they were unaware of the Speaker’s Office approving the choir’s performance. They apologized to the choir for the confusion that affected their rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and their visit to Capitol Hill.
In response to claims that the show was stopped due to potential offensiveness, the Capitol Police clarified that demonstrations and musical performances are generally not allowed in the Capitol. However, since the performers were children, the officers allowed them to finish their beautiful rendition of the national anthem.
House Speaker McCarthy and the three South Carolina representatives who collaborated with the choir confirmed that the Speaker’s Office had invited the choir to the Capitol. They expressed disappointment that the children’s celebration was cut short and emphasized that the children were warmly welcomed to express their love for the country during their visit.
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