Bowman: Investigation of Capitol attack is just the beginning in fight against institutional racism

Less than 48 hours after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., debuted a draft of the COUP Act (Congressional Oversight of Unjust Policing) — legislation to establish a commission to seek accountability and to investigate how rioters were able to break into the Capitol building. Yahoo News White House Correspondent Hunter Walker spoke with Bowman, who said the investigation is just the beginning in the fight against institutional racism.

Video Transcript


JAMAAL BOWMAN: I wasn't surprised at the attack. I was surprised by the lack of resistance.


During Black Lives Matter protests throughout the entire summer, like, there was-- there would be no way for anything like this to happen. So what did we know? When did we know it? How was it shared? Why weren't we more prepared? How the hell did they get in? All those questions kind of ran through my mind as I watched the events unfold.

I definitely don't think it should have been a surprise. The NYPD sent information. The FBI had information. They had intelligence. I haven't seen anything that indicates that they shared that intelligence with Capitol Police. I also learned the FBI went to meet with known white nationalist individuals and groups to ask them not to come to Washington. There's no excuse to me, in my opinion, that intelligence wasn't communicated within the FBI in some way. And there's also no excuse that it wasn't communicated to Capitol Police.

We also know that the chief of Capitol Police had intelligence. The chief asked specifically for National Guard presence. And the sergeant at arms stated something like, I don't like the optics of that. So it's like, what? You're worried about optics when you're being informed that there might be an attack on the Capitol? At the very least, there should have been hundreds, if not thousands, more law enforcement officials there with the proper gear and the proper equipment to stop anyone from breaching the Capitol.



The Coup Act, you know, the bill that we introduced, Congressional Oversight of Unjust Policing, wants to look at, are there explicit, direct connections between white nationalist individuals, groups, and Capitol Police? But we also need to look at it from the perspective of an implicit bias because it's the bias that alters behavior almost as much as the explicit racism that was on display.

We're not just looking at Capitol Police. We have the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, as well, named in the bill as well. In my opinion, we can't let it go because it directly connects with our legacy of racism and hate in this country that stems from the genocide of the indigenous Americans and the enslavement of African-Americans. The legacy of that is institutional racism and white nationalism. And if we don't deal with it directly and explicitly in every institution, it will continue to persist and grow and permeate and lead to a Donald Trump in the future, or someone who is even more savvy and intelligent than Donald Trump but still carries the myth of white superiority as a value and as part of their disposition.

Right after the insurrection, we went back to the floor to certify the electoral college results. And colleague after colleague gave speeches saying something to the effect of, this is not who we are. This is exactly who we are. We uphold the Constitution as the Holy Grail of our nation. The Constitution was written by white men where Black people were 3/5 of a man, of a person. There were no women, there were no people of color part of that. So the Constitution in and of itself is a racist document that we uphold as the Holy Grail. Congress as an institution has to ask itself, are we going to continue to uphold white supremacy? Or, are we going to become the nation that we are capable of becoming as a multiracial democracy? That's the question.

So Joe Biden speaking about racial justice, great. Speaking about disproportionality related to COVID and other areas in the environment, great. But I also want to look at the legacy of white superiority within policy because we will never be who we claim we are-- the exceptional America that we claim we are-- we'll never be that without going through the process of true reconstruction.