Thu. Mar 30, 2006
McKinney's A Heavyweight
I know I said it might be a while before I posted anything here, especially anything that isn’t family related. But my elected representative, Cynthia McKinney, has made a liar out of me. You may have already heard that she had an “incident” with a Capitol Hill police officer, in which (depending on who you believe) the chest of the police officer was either shoved, punched, or “stabbed” with a cell phone (ouch! ... I think this is most likely) by Ms. McKinney. Apparently, despite the fact Ms. McKinney wore no ID or even the discrete lapel pin given to Congresspeople, she expected the officer to recognize her as one of the “Elite 535.” Well, to my eyes, her appearance has changed pretty radically … and I don’t just mean her hair. She’s become a real heavyweight. A photo comparison follows…
Yesterday, not long after the incident was first reported, 11Alive News was quoting a statement on her web site attributed to Ms. McKinney. And it sure sounds like her: “Do I have to contact the police every time I change my hairstyle? How do we account for the fact that when I wore my braids every day for 11 years, I still faced this problem, primarily from certain white police officers.”
Yep, resorting immediately to playing the race card sounds like Prototypical McKinney. But I have to say, the change in her appearance is rather notable:
On the left is the photo currently on the home page of her web site. On the right is a photo of her speaking at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Service on January 16 of this year. Notice, it’s not just her hairstyle that’s changed. She appears to have put on some pretty serious weight as well. The two photos, to my eye, look like two sisters, not the same individual.
And while I suppose Capitol Hill police officers are expected to memorize the faces of all 535 members of Congress (could you do that? I’d recognize the faces of perhaps 100 today), members of Congress have an obligation to wear or carry official ID, and have been asked to wear a special lapel pin to help security see with a glance that they are indeed legit.
Ms. McKinney apparently has long refused to do this. Yet expects there to be no problems identifying her, nonetheless. There’s some real ego churning here.
Thus, the race card got played immediately. However, that initial statement appears to have, um, been removed, despite it being widely reported in the media. It appears it has been replaced with a new one:
To the Members of the Capitol Hill Police:
Earlier today I had an unfortunate confrontation with a Capitol Hill Police Officer. It is traditional protocol that Capitol Hill Police Officers secure 535 Members of Congress, including 100 Senators. It is the expectation of most Members of Congress that Capitol Hill Police officers know who they are. I was urgently trying to get to an important meeting on time to fulfill my obligations to my constituents. Unfortunately, the Police Officer did not recognize me as a Member of Congress and a confrontation ensued. I did not have on my Congressional pin but showed the Police Officer my Congressional ID.
I know that Capitol Hill Police are securing our safety, that of thousands of others, and I appreciate the work that they do. I deeply regret that the incident occurred. I have demonstrated my support for them in the past and I continue to support them now.
I’ve read someone’s comment that, since the officer first grabbed her arm, and then blocked her path, it was a legitimate case of self-defense. Sorry, Sparky, that officer’s job is to verify identities, and stop anyone who tries to enter without that verification. It’s for the safety of Ms. McKinney and her 534 peers.
Secondly, I defy you to come up with a circumstance in which you can strike a police officer in any way, and not get charged for it. That’s simply a Big No No that will get you sent to the Big House, in any district in America.
No matter who you are.
But, as the AJC reports, this isn’t exactly new:
This is not the first time McKinney has had an encounter with Capitol Hill police. When she first arrived in Congress in 1993, an officer failed to recognize her because she was new and not wearing the congressional pin. After she complained, police put pictures of McKinney up at each security checkpoint to ensure it would not happen again.
McKinney also once ran into problems at the White House. USA Today reported that when McKinney, who is African-American, and a young white aide arrived at a welcoming ceremony in May 1998 for then-Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, the guard at the gate deferred to the aide as the person of authority. Once in the executive mansion, McKinney said, another guard tried to stop her until Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) stepped in.
“I am absolutely sick and tired of having to have my appearance at the White House validated by white people,” McKinney wrote in a complaint to then-President Bill Clinton.
There seems to be a pattern, eh?
Of course, Republicans gleefully jumped all over this yesterday, as one would expect. But she also gave ammo to her next electoral opponent:
Hank Johnson, a DeKalb County, Ga., commissioner who is running against McKinney in this year’s Democratic primary, said voters “must hold Ms. McKinney accountable for her continued pattern of irresponsible and reckless behavior.
“For years, it’s the people of the Fourth District who have suffered and been shortchanged because of our representative’s behavior in Congress,” Johnson said. “It’s why she is ineffective in Congress.”
And about that “pattern.” In the AJC article, there’s evidence that, even after yesterday, it continues: “Brian Robinson, an aide to Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, said he spotted McKinney on Wednesday evening as she entered the Longworth House Office Building. Robinson said she walked around the security checkpoint, then — though no one tried to stop her — walked back and showed the police officer her congressional ID. Robinson said she still wasn’t wearing her congressional lapel pin.”
That sounds to me like someone baiting officers to try and create another incident. And failing.
But I’ll give her this much. She’s been in the office she regained for about 15 months now. And, as a constituent of Georgia’s 4th district who’s been tracking her actions during that time, this is the very first newsworthy thing she has done in all that time.
Bad, or good (well, unless you count this).
She remains “the Stealth Representative.” But now we know she’s a real heavyweight.