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Children’s choir singing national anthem at U.S. Capitol is interrupted, stoking furor

A children’s choir singing the national anthem at the U.S. Capitol had its performance interrupted by Capitol police who said “demonstrations” are not allowed, according to the choir’s director.

David Rasbach, the founder and director of the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir in Greenville, South Carolina, said he was “shocked” and stunned when the performance was disrupted on May 26. 

“I couldn’t believe that was happening, that they would stop the national anthem of all songs,” he told the Daily Signal.

Mr. Rasbach said he had permission from three congressional offices for the choir to sing in the Capitol — the offices of South Carolina Republican Reps. William Timmons and Joe Wilson, and the office of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican.

Video of the choir singing in Statuary Hall shows an unidentified congressional staffer approaching Mr. Rasbach to cut them off before they could complete the fourth verse, because a female Capitol Police officer had directed the staffer to stop the singing, Mr. Rasbach told the Daily Signal.

The incident sparked criticism among conservatives. 

“Rushingbrook Children’s Choir were singing the National Anthem in the Capitol and were stopped by Capitol police,” tweeted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican. “They were told that ‘certain Capitol police said it might offend someone/cause issues.’
She posted, “The National Anthem sung by children is not offensive, it’s needed more.”

Former Trump White House aide Mercedes Schlapp said on Twitter, “The only offensive thing about this is the anti-Americanism that has permeated our nation’s capital.”

Capitol Police disputed Mr. Rasbach’s version of events.

“Recently somebody posted a video of a children’s choir singing the Star-Spangled Banner in the U.S. Capitol Building and wrongfully claimed we stopped the performance because it ‘might offend someone,’” the Capitol Police told the Daily Signal in a statement. “Here is the truth. Demonstrations and musical performances are not allowed in the U.S. Capitol.”

The statement also said, “Of course, because the singers in this situation were children, our officers were reasonable and allowed the children to finish their beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. The congressional staff member who was accompanying the group knew the rules, yet lied to the officers multiple times about having permission from various offices. The staffer put both the choir and our officers, who were simply doing their jobs, in an awkward and embarrassing position.”

The report also said that shortly before the choir started singing the national anthem, Andrew Tremel, the visitor operations manager at the Architect of the Capitol, temporarily stopped them from singing. 

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