A 31-year-old Northwest man, who said he wanted to speak to the House of Representatives, climbed over the railing of a House visitors' gallery yesterday jumped 16 feet to the floor and then was quickly arrested.
Capitol Police said the man, Salieu Mohammand Bah, of 601 Edgewood St. NW, said, "Mr. Speaker," as he jumped and later told police that he "wanted recognition from the TV cameras" that televise House proceedings.
Before jumping, the man knocked over a brass restraining pole in the gallery, about five feet from the large clock at the rear of the House, according to one witness, Jim Talbert, an assistant to the superintendent of the House Press Gallery. Talbert said the man landed with a loud noise on the elevated riser behind the brass rail at the rear of the chamber.
After picking himself up, Bah, dressed in a dark business suit, staggered down the center aisle toward the well in front of the speaker's rostrum. According to Talbert, Bah called out, "Allow me to speak," and then was grabbed by three plainclothes members of the House sergeant-at-arms staff.
The plainclothes officers escorted the man, who did not appear to resist, back up the aisle.
There were only a handful of House members on the floor when the incident occurred at 12:11 p.m. Rep. Harold T. (Bizz) Johnson (D Calif.) was speaking about the proposed Airport and Airways Development Act at the time.
Bah was admitted to the No. 7 Gallery, the so-called Gentlemen's Gallery, with a standard pass that he obtained last Friday from the office of Del Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.).
Fauntroy spokesman Eldridge Spearman said Bah "simply came and represented himself as a constituent and said he wanted to visit the gallery." Spearman said he did not believe that Fauntroy's office had dealt with Bah before.
Bah complained of a back pain after being arrested, but was released from D.C. General Hospital after being examined. Bah, who was free on a $100 bond pending trial on a Sept. 21 false pretenses charge, was charged with disrupting Congress and help pending a court appearance this morning.