An elite children’s choir was silenced in the middle of performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” inside the U.S. Capitol after Capitol police reportedly feared that the song could be considered a “protest” and “might offend someone.”
On May 26, members of the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir arrived in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol for a pre-arranged tour. The group, believed to be a Christian choir from South Carolina, were also invited to perform a few patriotic songs in the hall after receiving approval from several of the state’s congressional representatives, including Russell Fry, William Timmons, and Joe Wilson — all Republicans.
However, as the choir was about to complete the third verse of the national anthem, a guide suddenly tapped the director on the shoulder and informed him that Capitol police had ordered the kids to stop singing immediately. The incident was captured on video, which has since gone viral on social media:
The children obeyed their director and stopped singing without ever finishing the song, though the audience standing nearby still applauded politely. Matthew Leys, one of the organizers of the event, claimed that Capitol police gave the order because “singing the Anthem could be considered a form of protest.”
“Certain Capitol police said it might offend someone/cause issues,” added Christina Chapman Heffernan, who first posted the video to Facebook and who is believed to be affiliated with the group. “We respect authority but we should have been allowed to sing because of the multi-level approval we already got from 2 representatives involved: Joe Wilson, and William Timmons.”
Others have voiced concerns about the seemingly excessive restrictions placed on law-abiding Americans these days. “When you need a permit to sing your National Anthem in your nation’s Capitol, something’s gone wrong,” Leys stated.
Political leaders and other national conservatives have also weighed in on the incident. The official account for the national GOP called it “outrageous,” and Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) claimed that his office would conduct further investigation into the matter. “If this really happened, I want to ask the @CapitolPolice why are children expressing their First Amendment rights, especially while singing our country’s national anthem, is offensive? My office will be looking into this,” he tweeted.
Republican state Representative Adam Morgan of South Carolina even hinted that the fear of being “offensive” has caused Americans to lose some of the freedoms they used to take for granted: “The fact that our National Anthem could ever be considered ‘offensive’ in our nation’s Capital is a stinging reminder of the challenges we face as a Republic.”
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