News & Politics

As D.C. Murder Rate Soars, FBI Arrests Jan. 6 Protester Who Spent 17 Minutes in the Capitol, Mostly Snapping Selfies

(Image credit: Department of Justice)

We can all sleep better tonight. The Los Angeles Times reported Monday on the July 29 arrest of Glen Allen Brooks, 61, of Huntington Beach, Calif. His crime? Brace yourself, gentle reader, for Mr. Brooks has been identified as a participant in the Jan. 6 “insurrection” at the United States Capitol. Imagine, he’s been on the loose all these months, no doubt insurrecting to beat the band the whole time.

Mr. Brooks’s alleged misdeeds are detailed in an FBI affidavit, in which a special agent (whose name is for some reason redacted) says that on Jan. 6, at 3:13 p.m., Brooks “entered the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol by climbing through a broken window near the Senate Wing Door.” The affidavit goes on to say Brooks left the Capitol at 3:30 p.m.

And how did this dangerous insurrectionist spend those intervening 17 minutes? Did he menace any House or Senate member? Did he assault any police officers, destroy or steal any property? Did he go off in search of Vice President Pence, perhaps to cajole him into invalidating the electoral vote?

He did none of these things. He took some pictures. Photographs included in the affidavit purport to show Brooks using his cell phone to snap pictures, all in the presence of a dozen or more uniformed police officers, none of whom appear to be doing anything to stop him or anyone else from meandering about the room. Brooks reportedly shared some of his pictures with members of his church prayer group back home, one of whom reported him to the FBI.

I make no excuses for people who violate the law, but one must question the rationale for expending any of the FBI’s finite resources on arrests such as this. Yes, there were serious crimes committed by some people who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, including assaults on police officers. Brooks is not charged with any such crime. By all means, no effort should be spared in identifying and apprehending those responsible for such acts, but the FBI’s apparent zeal to round up every last person who entered the Capitol that day, regardless of how innocuously they may have behaved while inside, gives the appearance of unfairness. This is especially so when compared to the lack of similar fervor to prosecute those responsible for last year’s nightly attacks on the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., during which officers were injured and the building repeatedly set ablaze.

There have been 114 homicides in Washington, D.C., this year, a 5 percent increase over the same period last year, and based on the Metropolitan Police Department’s past performance, we may assume more than 30 percent of them will go unsolved. Perhaps the FBI’s time and effort would be of better use in trying to improve these statistics.