The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Capitol Police officer suspended after antisemitic document found at checkpoint

The U.S. Capitol earlier this month.
The U.S. Capitol earlier this month. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

U.S. Capitol Police suspended an officer Monday after a copy of an infamous antisemitic tract was found near a Capitol Hill security post Sunday, alarming a congressional aide who viewed the document in plain sight at the checkpoint. 

Photographs provided to The Washington Post show a printed copy of the Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion on a table inside an entrance to the Longworth House Office Building.

The Post provided the photographs to the Capitol Police on Monday morning and requested comment. The department said Monday evening that acting chief Yogananda D. Pittman had suspended an officer pending an investigation “after anti-Semitic reading material was discovered near his work area on Sunday.”

“We take all allegations of inappropriate behavior seriously,” Pittman said in the statement. “Once this matter was brought to my attention, I immediately ordered the officer to be suspended until the Office of Professional Responsibility can thoroughly investigate.”

Zach Fisch, the chief of staff to Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), spotted and photographed the document about 7 p.m. Sunday while leaving the South Capitol Street entrance to the Longworth Building, one of the few 24-hour entrances on the House side of the Capitol campus. He later provided the photos to The Post.

It is unclear from the photographs who was in possession of the document, which was held together by a binder clip with its pages tattered and stained. A date stamp indicated it was printed in January 2019. 

Fisch described being “extremely rattled” by the content, particularly in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection. In tweets Monday evening, Fisch said the document reflected “both a national security problem and a workplace safety problem.”

Capitol Police were unable to stop a breach of the Capitol. Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig and a former Senate Sergeant at Arms describe the events. (Video: Joshua Carroll, Luis Velarde/The Washington Post, Photo: Reuters/The Washington Post)

“Our office is full of people — Black, Brown, Jewish, queer — who have good reason to fear white supremacists,” he tweeted. “If the [Capitol Police] is all that stands between us and the mob we saw on Jan. 6, how can we feel safe?”

Rioters were spotted that day wearing antisemitic garb, including one person photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt.

There is no known previous direct connection between the document and the Capitol Police, but members of the force have been under scrutiny for their behavior during the riot.

Videos from that day showed some officers taking selfies with rioters and allowing them to bypass security in some places as they descended on the Capitol. One officer allegedly shook hands with rioters and told them, “It’s your house now,” as they rushed the Capitol building, according to court documents.

The department said last month that it was investigating 35 officers for their actions during the insurrection, with six of those officers placed on paid suspension pending the outcome of the internal probe.

The tract, also known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is a virulent fable with a century-long provenance that purports to be the account of a meeting where Jewish masters concoct a plan for world domination. The “protocols” they discuss reflect a variety of ancient antisemitic tropes, with a shadowy cabal orchestrating control of the banking system, the media and government in service of their own sinister ends.

The Anti-Defamation League calls it “a classic in paranoid, racist literature,” and scholars have traced its origin to late imperial Russia, where security forces eventually circulated the tale to sow suspicion about revolutionaries challenging the czarist regime.

It has since been translated into multiple languages, fomenting antisemitic sentiment around the world — including in Germany ahead of the Nazi genocide and more recently in majority-Muslim countries. One version was published in 1920 in a U.S. newspaper owned by auto magnate Henry Ford, and it has since become a staple text of white-
supremacist groups.

While professionally published English-language versions are scarce, the text is widely available on the Internet. The copy spotted Sunday appeared to have been downloaded from the website of the Australia-based Bible Believers Church, a notorious online depot for antisemitic materials.

Read more at PowerPost

Loading...