On the evening of Jan. 4, dozens of protesters filled the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol to demonstrate against efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
The protesters marched in a solemn procession to the door of the House of Representatives, chanting “No cuts to Planned Parenthood” and “Tillers out, Trump out” before being met by police clad in riot gear, holding riot shields. Video from the demonstration shows protesters against the cordon of police, physically pressing their way into the Capitol. At least one protester can be seen pointing a gun at police, raising a black-tipped spear.
The skirmish ended with at least one police officer being knocked to the ground.
Several protesters were arrested by Capitol Police and charged with failing to obey a lawful order or lawful order with injuring a police officer. The charges against the protesters ranged from failure to obey a lawful order to failing to leave the Capitol within the hour that had been provided.
The police did not arrest one protester for making violent threats toward a police officer.
When asked at a court hearing on Jan. 6 why protesters charged with breaking the rules of the rotunda were not arrested for the more serious charge of making death threats against a police officer, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein was at a loss.
“Sir, I cannot tell you,” she said. “I’m supposed to be here to handle charges against the individuals who actually made the threats.”
The protester who made the threats against a police officer is another exception. For that offense, a suspect is only charged with a lower level of violence, a felony.