Wednesday, April 05, 2006
AP: Grand jury to hear Black Congresswoman's assault charge; DeLay calls her arrogant racist
By LAURIE KELLMAN and MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 50 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury will soon begin hearing evidence about Rep. Cynthia McKinney's run-in with a Capitol Police officer, a lawyer familiar with the case said late Wednesday. The lawyer, who declined to be identified because of grand jury secrecy, confirmed that federal prosecutors had agreed to get involved in the case in which a black lawmaker is accused of striking a white officer after he tried to stop her from entering a House office building without going through a security checkpoint.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said McKinney, left, turned the officer's failure to recognize her into a criminal matter when she failed to stop at his request, and then struck him.
"He reached out and grabbed her and she turned around and hit him," Gainer said on CNN. "Even the high and the haughty should be able to stop and say, 'I'm a congressman' and then everybody moves on."
"This is not about personality," added House Speaker, R-Ill. "It's not about racial profiling. It's about making this place safer."
For her part, McKinney wasn't backing down from the argument. She charged anew that racism is behind what she said is a pattern of difficulty in clearing Hill security checkpoints.
"This has become much ado about hairdo," she said Wednesday on CBS' "The Early Show." McKinney, a Georgia Democrat, recently dropped her trademark cornrows in favor of a curly brown afro.
The police aren't the ones who are racist, one Republican said. "Cynthia McKinney is a racist," Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends," a day after abandoning his reelection bid under a cloud of ethics charges. "She has a long history of racism. Everything is racism with her. This is incredible arrogance that sometimes hits these members of Congress, but especially Cynthia McKinney."
Last Wednesday's incident in a House office building has caused a commotion on Capitol Hill, where security in the era of terrorist threat is tighter than ever and where authorities had to order an evacuation just Monday because of a power outage.
Capitol Police have turned the case over to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein, who must decide whether to clear the way for any charges against McKinney. An official in his office said no announcement was expected Wednesday.
McKinney has garnered little support among fellow Democrats in her feud with the Capitol police. No one in her party chose to join her at a news conference last Friday to discuss the situation.
Republicans, meanwhile, presented a resolution commending Capitol police for professionalism toward members of Congress and visitors even though they "endure physical and verbal assaults in some extreme cases."
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