Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman was charged with unauthorized activation of a fire alarm in the Capitol, which resulted in the evacuation of one of the buildings. The politician claims that he did it by mistake, while Republicans call his action sabotage. As Reuters notes, the alarm prompted an evacuation as Bowman’s party tried to delay the crucial vote.
Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman, representing New York, was charged Wednesday with unauthorized activation of a fire alarm at the Capitol, according to District Supreme Court records Colombia. The incident occurred on September 30 at noon. The alarm sounded at the Cannon House, one of the congressional buildings, and forced all occupants to evacuate, which lasted about an hour and a half before it was ascertained that there was no fire.
Congressman with an accusation
Surveillance footage from the building shows that the fire alarm was triggered by Jamaal Bowman. According to the BBC, committing an offense of unauthorized alarm activation can result in a fine of $1,000 and six months in prison. – The congressman was treated like anyone else who violates the law in the District of Columbia – said a spokesman for the attorney general, quoted by the station. “Based on the evidence presented by the Capitol Police, we have charged him with one crime for which we have the authority to prosecute,” he added.
In a statement from the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) in early October, it was reported that surveillance footage showed Bowman trying to leave the building and then pressing the alarm button on the wall next to the door. It also noted that “USCP officers had previously posted signs there clearly stating that the door was secured and was only used as an emergency exit.”
Republicans accuse congressman
Republican Party officials accused Bowman of deliberately sounding the alarm in an attempt to sabotage an important vote that was soon to begin in the House of Representatives. It concerned the one presented a moment earlier by the chairman of the chamber U.S. Government Temporary Financing Act. Republicans claim that in this way the Democrat wanted to delay the vote and help his party have more time to read the content of the document.
Jamaal Bowman, 47, is scheduled to appear in court for the first time on Thursday. However, as he said earlier, he admits that he actually triggered the alarm, but claims that he did it by mistake. The congressman explains that he thought the button on the wall was used to open the door at the Cannon House. In a statement published on the day of the incident, he emphasized that he was “in a hurry to vote” and the door he wanted to leave through usually remains open. “I feel embarrassed to admit that I turned on the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret it and sincerely apologize for any confusion it caused,” he wrote. “I didn’t try to delay any vote. On the contrary, I tried to get to it urgently, which I ultimately managed to do,” he added. The U.S. Government Temporary Funding Act was finally passed on the same day with almost unanimous Democratic support.
In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday, Bowman reiterated that he was responsible for triggering the alarm and would pay the fine for doing so, but that he expected the charges against him to be dropped. He again denied the accusations made by Republicans. “I think we all know Republicans will try to use this event to distract from their mess, but I expect it will soon be behind me and I can continue to work hard on behalf of the people of New York,” he wrote.
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