Greenville Co. children’s choir performance at U.S. Capitol cut short by police
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - An Upstate children’s choir that traveled to Washington D.C. to visit the U.S. Capitol were interrupted when they started singing the national anthem.
The Rushingbrook Children’s Choir were singing when they were told to stop.
According to the choir’s director David Rashbach, the choir was towards the end when an office person told them to stop the performance.
However, according to a tweet from Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the school received permission to sing from his office.
Just learned kids were interrupted while singing our National Anthem at the Capitol. Unacceptable.— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) June 2, 2023
These children were welcomed by my office because your Capitol is back open, particularly for school groups. @RepTimmons, @RepJoeWilson, & @RepRussellFry, and I look forward to…
Rasbach said after the choir stopped singing, he went to Capitol Police and asked what was the problem with them performing.
According to Rashbach, the person told him ‘this is considered an act of demonstration and we do not allow demonstrations inside the Capitol.’ To this Rashbach told the person they were not demonstrating, but singing the national anthem.
The guidelines for conducting an event listed on the Capitol Police website mentions musical presentations are allowed in certain locations and they are not considered demonstrations.
“Musical presentations are not considered “demonstrations,” however, can be permitted in the Upper Senate Park. On weekends, musical presentations are also allowed on the West Front as long as Congress is not in session. Musical presentations are to be small in scale events, such as school band presentations.”
Rashbach said after the children stopped singing and walked out he went back to the Capitol Police and told them he thought this was wrong.
“To think that singing the national anthem in the Capitol of our country is not allowed is offensive to me,” said Rashbach to Capitol Police. “I said we are going to contact our senators and congressman and try to get this changed.”
Capitol Police later issued a statement apologizing for the interruption and stated they were unaware the performance had been approved.
“Although popup demonstrations and musical performances are not allowed in the U.S. Capitol without the proper approval, due to a miscommunication, the U.S Capitol Police were not aware that the Speaker’s Office had approved this performance. We apologize to the choir for this miscommunication that impacted their beautiful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and their visit to Capitol Hill.”
Rep. William Timmons, Speaker McCarthy, Rep. Joe Wilson, and Rep. Russell Fry released the following joint statement regarding the situation and stated the S.C. delegation is offering to cover all of their expenses to return to the Capitol to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“We recently learned that schoolchildren from South Carolina were interrupted while singing our National Anthem at the Capitol. These children were welcomed by the Speaker’s office to joyfully express their love of this Nation while visiting the Capitol, and we are all very disappointed to learn their celebration was cut short. We are delighted that the People’s House has been reopened particularly for our children and we look forward to welcoming more Americans back to the halls of Congress.”
During a press conference in Greenville, FOX Carolina asked Senator Lindsey Graham about the incident in which he said he believes there was a miscommunication.
“The Capitol Police have a tough job. We’ll find out exactly what happened, it sounds like it was a miscommunication,” said Senator Graham. “They had permission, but the cops didn’t know it. So, that was a snafu and I’m sad it happened, but I just want to let people from South Carolina know you are welcome to come to your Capitol. It is your Capitol, its not my Capitol. You know, you pay the taxes. It is your seat of government. You have a right to visit. come up and visit is a wonderful building. And if you want to get out on the steps of Capitol and sing the national anthem, I promise you you will be allowed to do so.
The choir was invited to perform the national anthem live on FOX Carolina on Monday, June 5.
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