Opinion/Editorial: City worker who attacked Capitol committed crime | Opinion | #College. | #Students


Any city employee from Charlottesville who entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, should be fired or at least put on administrative leave. It is as simple as that. At a Monday city council meeting, Acting City Manager Michael Rogers said that a city employee did participate in the Capitol attack, but should not be fired or disciplined because he was never charged with a crime.

This person, who works in the city’s information technology department, entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 and posted his presence on social media. The person has since been interviewed multiple times by the FBI, but never charged, Rogers told City Council members. The employee later wrote city officials a letter of apology, Rogers said. He declined to read the letter publicly.

The employee has “been interviewed by the FBI three times over the past year and a half,” Rogers said. “The employee reports no further contact from the FBI. The employee has not been charged with any actions stemming from his presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

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Rogers told the councilors that so far, prosecutors have focused on “individuals who are pictured and filmed by themselves and others…engaging in destructive acts and being disruptive. The arrests stem from their criminal activity, not merely their presence in the Capitol.”

Implying that entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 against the will of Congress and the police was not a crime betrays both law and common sense. We wonder how Rogers—not to mention Charlottesville City Council members – would feel about someone who entered City Hall to force them to overturn a legal election aided by people who beat police officers and broke in through locked doors and windows. Would that person be innocent?

“We have a personnel policy that governs this person’s employment,” Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook said in a statement. “I have been told that our present personnel policy doesn’t give us the right to fire him for 18—month-old conduct that, despite being investigated by the FBI, did not even result in an arrest. For better or for worse, we should follow the policy. We should also consider adopting a code of conduct or an add-on to the personnel policy that would apply to conduct such as what was involved here.”

The hearings of the House Select Committee investigation of the Jan. 6 attack make clear how destructive the Charlottesville situation can become to the city’s reputation. Those who entered the Capitol knowingly committed a crime. Those who went inside intending to stop certification of the Electoral College committed treason.

Then-President Donald Trump lied to those people, telling them that election fraud allowed Democrat Joe Biden to illegally win the presidency. Trump also lied to a crowd of thousands near the White House, telling them then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power and obligation to stop the certification process. Trump told crowd members they would have to “fight like hell” to stop the election from being stolen. Then, Trump urged the crowd to march to the Capitol and demand that members of the U.S. Senate and House, as well as Pence, call off the certification.

Trump manipulated and exploited every person who acted in his behalf, including the city employee in question. But individuals bear responsibility for their personal decisions. Free speech does not include beating police officers and breaking windows. It does not include rifling desks in the Senate chamber after forcing its evacuation with chants of “Hang Mike Pence.” It does not include slamming a battering ram against the locked door of the House of Representatives.

Even people who did none of those things placed themselves voluntarily amidst the criminal mayhem and did nothing to stop it. Accepting it, they became accessories in the moral, if not the legal sense.

Criminal behavior by employees of private businesses is between worker and boss. Public servants are different. The Charlottesville city employee who attacked the Capitol Jan. 6, 2021, may have done so on their own time. But because taxpayers pay their salary, public interest attaches to their actions.

Rogers told City Council that “considering the totality of circumstances, including that it’s been a year and half without any action, I conclude that no further action or review is warranted in this case. And I hope this settles this matter.”



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