Ashli Babbitt and Broken Windows

 

Ashli Babbitt is, as far as we know, the only person to die as a direct consequence of a deliberate act of violence during the riot of January 6 in Washington D.C. She’s the young woman who was shot by an unnamed Capitol employee while climbing through a window in the Capitol Building.

Ms. Babbitt was able to climb through a window because the window had been broken by rioters. Rioters broke the window in plain view of armed Capitol Police, who made no visible effort to stop them. (This can be observed in the short video made in the minutes leading up to and culminating in the shooting.)

The rioters weren’t very good at breaking windows. Some of them punched the windows repeatedly with their fists, gradually cracking the apparently reinforced glass. One used a thin stick, perhaps a broom handle, to poke and dislodge the cracked glass. It was a rather pathetic performance by a not very impressive mob — most rioters appear to me to be young and, frankly, wimpy — but, since they met no resistance from the police present on the scene, their clumsy efforts eventually paid off.

Broken windows. I don’t know why the police allowed the windows to be broken. I don’t know what those on the scene thought would happen after the mob succeeded in breaking the windows: surely a reasonable expectation would be that some would attempt to enter the room beyond the windows. What were they thinking?

What the rioters were thinking, I’m sure, is that there was no penalty for breaking windows. That’s what I thought, watching them.  Perhaps they were surprised by that, as I was. But I’m sure it was a surprise for all concerned (other than for the guy with the gun hiding on the other side of the wall) when the penalty for climbing through a broken window was revealed to be a speedy execution.

Murder rates skyrocket around the country following a year of broken windows. It will be blamed on racism, rather than on what it is: bad governance by cowardly public officials.

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  1. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    One quibble:  it’s unclear to me that Babbitt had actually climbed through the window at the time she was shot–as opposed to entering the opening with an attempt to breach it. 

    • #1
  2. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    One quibble: it’s unclear to me that Babbitt had actually climbed through the window at the time she was shot–as opposed to entering the opening with an attempt to breach it.

    I haven’t re-re-re-watched the video, but it looked to me as if she had about half her torso through the window. She was clearly attempting to enter the room.

    Had a serious effort been made by anyone present to prevent her from climbing in, I would be more sanguine about her shooting. But the instantaneous escalation from passive acceptance to lethal force deserves a more public examination than it has received.

     

    • #2
  3. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    From the Guardian:

    Video obtained by the Washington Post shows Babbitt and other members of the mob shouting at a cluster of officers who are guarding the door, telling them to step aside, as other Trump supporters pound on the door’s glass, shattering it. The video shows the officers moving away from the door, and members of the crowd surging forward, shouting “Break it down” and “Let’s [REDACTED] go” as they try to break through the door…

    Other widely circulated videos show Babbitt hopping up to push herself through one of the door’s glass panels, towards the legislators at the other end of the hallway, as a man shouts “Bust it down!” The footage shows a shot ringing out, and Babbitt falling to the ground. Officials would later confirm that she had been shot by a Capitol police officer, and that the shooting is under investigation.

    Lawmakers from both parties who were present at the moment when Babbitt was shot have spoken out about the dangerous behavior of the crowd.

    “The mob was going to come through the door; there was a lot of members and staff that were in danger at the time,” the Oklahoma Republican congressman Markwayne Mullin said, according to Fox News.

    He defended the police officer’s decision to shoot Babbitt: “His actions will be judged in a lot of different ways moving forward, but his actions I believe saved people’s lives even more. Unfortunately, it did take one, though.”

    • #3
  4. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Zafar (View Comment):

    From the Guardian:

    Video obtained by the Washington Post shows Babbitt and other members of the mob shouting at a cluster of officers who are guarding the door, telling them to step aside, as other Trump supporters pound on the door’s glass, shattering it. The video shows the officers moving away from the door, and members of the crowd surging forward, shouting “Break it down” and “Let’s [REDACTED] go” as they try to break through the door…

    Other widely circulated videos show Babbitt hopping up to push herself through one of the door’s glass panels, towards the legislators at the other end of the hallway, as a man shouts “Bust it down!” The footage shows a shot ringing out, and Babbitt falling to the ground. Officials would later confirm that she had been shot by a Capitol police officer, and that the shooting is under investigation.

    Lawmakers from both parties who were present at the moment when Babbitt was shot have spoken out about the dangerous behavior of the crowd.

    “The mob was going to come through the door; there was a lot of members and staff that were in danger at the time,” the Oklahoma Republican congressman Markwayne Mullin said, according to Fox News.

    He defended the police officer’s decision to shoot Babbitt: “His actions will be judged in a lot of different ways moving forward, but his actions I believe saved people’s lives even more. Unfortunately, it did take one, though.”

    Regarding the last paragraph, I think it’s rubbish. The area beyond the doors was largely empty, and there was plenty of room to prevent, and means to prevent, a few people from getting through the narrow openings.

    I cannot easily reconcile the passivity of the officers on the outside and the hidden lethal stance of the officer on the inside. It’s a situation that invited catastrophe.

    • #4
  5. MDHahn Coolidge
    MDHahn
    @MDHahn

    The loss of life is tragic. However, I remain shocked that more rioters weren’t shot. It may be fair to ask why others weren’t fired upon or why other officers restrained themselves. But it should not be surprising that officers used deadly force when a mob forced its way into the Capitol and clearly sought to harm members of Congress. 

    I frankly don’t understand the confusion on this. What am I missing? Is it because of the media double standard on a police shooting?

    • #5
  6. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    One quibble: it’s unclear to me that Babbitt had actually climbed through the window at the time she was shot–as opposed to entering the opening with an attempt to breach it.

    I haven’t re-re-re-watched the video, but it looked to me as if she had about half her torso through the window. She was clearly attempting to enter the room.

    Had a serious effort been made by anyone present to prevent her from climbing in, I would be more sanguine about her shooting. But the instantaneous escalation from passive acceptance to lethal force deserves a more public examination than it has received.

     

    I’m not a police officer and I don’t play one on TV; however, this particular situation seemed that it could have been better handled by pepper spray or mace rather than lethal force.  Just sayin’…

    • #6
  7. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    The loss of life is tragic. However, I remain shocked that more rioters weren’t shot. It may be fair to ask why others weren’t fired upon or why other officers restrained themselves. But it should not be surprising that officers used deadly force when a mob forced its way into the Capitol and clearly sought to harm members of Congress.

    I frankly don’t understand the confusion on this. What am I missing? Is it because of the media double standard on a police shooting?

    For me, it’s the contrast between lack of control and sudden use of lethal force. This has been going on for a year, surrendering control to violent rioters and protesters, letting them run roughshod. CHAZ should never have been tolerated. None of this should have been tolerated when it became violent. We’d have been saved a lot of deaths, a lot of injury, and billions of dollars worth of damage.

    Of course, Trump might have won reelection had local governments behaved responsibly. So I suppose it paid off in the end.

    • #7
  8. Baker Member
    Baker
    @Baker

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    Of course, Trump might have won reelection had local governments behaved responsibly. So I suppose it paid off in the end.

    You dont think the CHAZ stuff and the riots was a huge help to him? I think if local governments had behaved responsibly, Biden might have won bigger. Trump was generally unpopular but the narrative that the Dems are lawless and incapable of standing up to what amounts to terrorism was pretty strong.

    • #8
  9. MDHahn Coolidge
    MDHahn
    @MDHahn

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    The loss of life is tragic. However, I remain shocked that more rioters weren’t shot. It may be fair to ask why others weren’t fired upon or why other officers restrained themselves. But it should not be surprising that officers used deadly force when a mob forced its way into the Capitol and clearly sought to harm members of Congress.

    I frankly don’t understand the confusion on this. What am I missing? Is it because of the media double standard on a police shooting?

    For me, it’s the contrast between lack of control and sudden use of lethal force. This has been going on for a year, surrendering control to violent rioters and protesters, letting them run roughshod. CHAZ should never have been tolerated. None of this should have been tolerated when it became violent. We’d have been saved a lot of deaths, a lot of injury, and billions of dollars worth of damage.

    Of course, Trump might have won reelection had local governments behaved responsibly. So I suppose it paid off in the end.

    So would it have been better to use force–even lethal force–earlier? Should the police have opened fire when the rioters first breached the perimeter or the Capitol itself? 

    • #9
  10. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    The loss of life is tragic. However, I remain shocked that more rioters weren’t shot. It may be fair to ask why others weren’t fired upon or why other officers restrained themselves. But it should not be surprising that officers used deadly force when a mob forced its way into the Capitol and clearly sought to harm members of Congress.

    I frankly don’t understand the confusion on this. What am I missing? Is it because of the media double standard on a police shooting?

    For me, it’s the contrast between lack of control and sudden use of lethal force. This has been going on for a year, surrendering control to violent rioters and protesters, letting them run roughshod. CHAZ should never have been tolerated. None of this should have been tolerated when it became violent. We’d have been saved a lot of deaths, a lot of injury, and billions of dollars worth of damage.

    Of course, Trump might have won reelection had local governments behaved responsibly. So I suppose it paid off in the end.

    So would it have been better to use force–even lethal force–earlier? Should the police have opened fire when the rioters first breached the perimeter or the Capitol itself?

    I invite you to go back and consider the theme of the post: that preventing escalation — fixing broken windows, in the original terms of the theory — is a key to avoiding the kind of tragedy that resulted.

    So no, don’t start shooting rioters when they first enter the Capitol. But do take a firm stand. Use non-lethal deterrents. Keep them outside. The police have mace, Tasers, sticks, handcuffs, and other tools for preventing the situation from getting out of hand.

    And when people start breaking windows, confront them. Make the threat that lethal force will be used real to them: tell them to stop, point guns at them if necessary.

    In the case of Ashli Babbitt, what was done instead was… nothing. Police stood by, allowed the windows to be broken, and then reacted only when an officer in hiding on the other side of the wall — a man who provided no non-lethal deterrence because he was out of sight and not engaged with Babbitt — shot her.

    Again, that’s the point of the post.


    Incidentally, this is precisely the kind of thing Victor Davis Hanson is talking about when he talks about what leads nations into war. When a strong nation is perceived as weak, when enemies underestimate the capability and resolve of a nation, wars happen. America is on the road to being in that situation, as a weak and faltering dimwit sitting in the Oval Office communicates fecklessness and incompetence.

    And something similar, I think, explains in part why Ashli Babbitt is dead.

    • #10
  11. Baker Member
    Baker
    @Baker

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    For me, it’s the contrast between lack of control and sudden use of lethal force. This has been going on for a year, surrendering control to violent rioters and protesters, letting them run roughshod. CHAZ should never have been tolerated. None of this should have been tolerated when it became violent. We’d have been saved a lot of deaths, a lot of injury, and billions of dollars worth of damage.

    I dont really disagree with any of that but would note, these are all different cities with different mayors and different politics playing into them letting protesters take over their own streets. And there shouldnt be any expectation the capitol hill police were bound to any sort of precedent set from the summer when a mob attacks the capitol, with Congress in session.

    • #11
  12. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Baker (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    Of course, Trump might have won reelection had local governments behaved responsibly. So I suppose it paid off in the end.

    You dont think the CHAZ stuff and the riots was a huge help to him? I think if local governments had behaved responsibly, Biden might have won bigger. Trump was generally unpopular but the narrative that the Dems are lawless and incapable of standing up to what amounts to terrorism was pretty strong.

    No, I think it counted against the President.

    Most people don’t pay a lot of attention to current events. They hear the media spin, and the get a sense of chaos, and they feel that things are unstable. That counts against the President in power. I think it counted against Trump — particularly when combined with the endless media-promulgated fiction that he was a racist.

    The same is true of the Wuhan virus epidemic. It doesn’t matter that the worst damage was done, not by Trump, but by incompetent and power-hungry local and state bureaucrats. People felt unsafe, and relentlessly blaming Trump for that worked just fine.

    • #12
  13. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    MDHahn (View Comment):
    So would it have been better to use force–even lethal force–earlier? Should the police have opened fire when the rioters first breached the perimeter or the Capitol itself?

    Or used tear gas, but yes. A strong initial response would have kept the peace.

    But – then there’s the political sensitivity and the ‘optics’. Imagine the reaction on Ricochet if news of the  certification (?) was accompanied by photographs of Trump supporters being water cannoned (instead of pictures of Trump supporters vandalising the house).

    Optics are an important part of policing – aaaaand hindsight is 20:20. 

    • #13
  14. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member
    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler
    @Muleskinner

    Henry Racette: The rioters weren’t very good at breaking windows. Some of them punched the windows repeatedly with their fists, gradually cracking the apparently reinforced glass. One used a thin stick, perhaps a broom handle, to poke and dislodge the cracked glass. It was a rather pathetic performance by a not very impressive mob — most rioters appear to me to be young and, frankly, wimpy

    If this be treason, make the most least of it. 

    • #14
  15. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Baker (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    For me, it’s the contrast between lack of control and sudden use of lethal force. This has been going on for a year, surrendering control to violent rioters and protesters, letting them run roughshod. CHAZ should never have been tolerated. None of this should have been tolerated when it became violent. We’d have been saved a lot of deaths, a lot of injury, and billions of dollars worth of damage.

    I dont really disagree with any of that but would note, these are all different cities with different mayors and different politics playing into them letting protesters take over their own streets. And there shouldnt be any expectation the capitol hill police were bound to any sort of precedent set from the summer when a mob attacks the capitol, with Congress in session.

    Hmm. I wonder what all those riot-torn cities had in common, in terms of governance….

    Prior to the riot, the Capitol Police were told to restrain themselves, including in the use of non-lethal deterrents.

    • #15
  16. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Zafar (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):
    So would it have been better to use force–even lethal force–earlier? Should the police have opened fire when the rioters first breached the perimeter or the Capitol itself?

    Or used tear gas, but yes. A strong initial response would have kept the peace.

    But – then there’s the political sensitivity and the ‘optics’. Imagine the reaction on Ricochet if news of the certification (?) was accompanied by photographs of Trump supporters being water cannoned (instead of pictures of Trump supporters vandalising the house).

    Optics are an important part of policing – aaaaand hindsight is 20:20.

    “Hindsight is 20:20.”

    Well, yes. But we had all of 2020 to view in hindsight, and January 6 was 2021. This isn’t a sudden failure on the part of government, it’s a year of mollycoddling and tolerating self-righteous miscreants and thugs as they rampaged through our cities. If we hadn’t tolerated it for the first 500 riots, we might have had an easier time dealing with the 501st.

    • #16
  17. Freeven Member
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    I agree with most everything in the original post. A key point, to me, is the context in which this took place. For a year, we’d watched hundreds of riots across the nation where rioters engaged in exactly this type of behavior while police stood by with their hands in their pockets. At the direction of  our government officials, police had established long-standing, well-known, and relied upon rules of engagement. Like it or not, everyone understood that this is how the game was played. Until it wasn’t and someone died.

    In the event, we saw a microcosm of what has played out nationally: police disengaging, offering no resistance, and no hint that the rules had changed. But they had, for one man, at least.

    That said, I just watched the video for the first time. (I don’t have the constitution to watch these types of things, but I didn’t want to comment without having watched it at least once.) This was a huge fuster cluck on the part of the authorities, and the lack of transparency in the aftermath should make every American irate. That said, Ashli Babbitt acted extremely foolish — first by being there, and second by attempting to breach a barricade (to what end?) even while those around her were shouting warnings about the man pointing a gun at them on the other side. I’d have expected a military veteran to have better judgment in a matter like this. She’s better remembered as a fool than a martyr. Plenty of blame to go around, on both sides.

    • #17
  18. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    The Capitol Police had ludicrously bad riot control tactics.

    Also, I do not see how Ashli presented an imminent threat of death or grievous injury.  Is there some footage of her with a ready weapon?

    • #18
  19. Flicker Member
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Zafar (View Comment):

    From the Guardian:

    Video obtained by the Washington Post shows Babbitt and other members of the mob shouting at a cluster of officers who are guarding the door, telling them to step aside, as other Trump supporters pound on the door’s glass, shattering it. The video shows the officers moving away from the door, and members of the crowd surging forward, shouting “Break it down” and “Let’s [REDACTED] go” as they try to break through the door…

    Other widely circulated videos show Babbitt hopping up to push herself through one of the door’s glass panels, towards the legislators at the other end of the hallway, as a man shouts “Bust it down!” The footage shows a shot ringing out, and Babbitt falling to the ground. Officials would later confirm that she had been shot by a Capitol police officer, and that the shooting is under investigation.

    Lawmakers from both parties who were present at the moment when Babbitt was shot have spoken out about the dangerous behavior of the crowd.

    “The mob was going to come through the door; there was a lot of members and staff that were in danger at the time,” the Oklahoma Republican congressman Markwayne Mullin said, according to Fox News.

    He defended the police officer’s decision to shoot Babbitt: “His actions will be judged in a lot of different ways moving forward, but his actions I believe saved people’s lives even more. Unfortunately, it did take one, though.”

    Did you watch all the videos?  It looks like you are reporting on other people’s impressions of the videos.  You need to really watch and listen to the videos.

    • #19
  20. Flicker Member
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, but two things.  The first is that the only shattered glass was very thick and sturdy in the door’s windows.  The most-shattered of which was shattered by a guy who had a helmet passed to him by someone else; this shows a level of coordination.  This was more likely an anti-fa activist than it was a Trump supporter: Trump supporters were not trained with the benefit of witnessing the Hong Kong riots, and Trump supporters are not trained to bring and hide devices, as the man who broke the window did — after breaking the window, going down the steps and placing the helmet that was given to him in his back pack and iirc changing an article of clothing.

    And secondly, the window that Ashli Babbit was in, and positioned upright within when she was shot, was neither glass nor shattered.  It was a piece of thin plex that was hit a few times and popped out of his bracing, as if it was intended not to be thick or sturdy, and easily removable.

    • #20
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Lawmakers from both parties who were present at the moment when Babbitt was shot have spoken out about the dangerous behavior of the crowd.

    I wasn’t there.

    Edit: that’s a quote from the Guardian, not Flicker – just to avoid misunderstanding or bitterness.

    • #21
  22. Flicker Member
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    The loss of life is tragic. However, I remain shocked that more rioters weren’t shot. It may be fair to ask why others weren’t fired upon or why other officers restrained themselves. But it should not be surprising that officers used deadly force when a mob forced its way into the Capitol and clearly sought to harm members of Congress.

    I frankly don’t understand the confusion on this. What am I missing? Is it because of the media double standard on a police shooting?

    I see.

    • #22
  23. Flicker Member
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    For me, it’s the contrast between lack of control and sudden use of lethal force.

    Not to mention the soldiers or policemen actually holding doors open for the “protesters” and stepping aside to allow them to get close to the door that was smashed.

    • #23
  24. Flicker Member
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Zafar (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):
    So would it have been better to use force–even lethal force–earlier? Should the police have opened fire when the rioters first breached the perimeter or the Capitol itself?

    Or used tear gas, but yes. A strong initial response would have kept the peace.

    But – then there’s the political sensitivity and the ‘optics’. Imagine the reaction on Ricochet if news of the certification (?) was accompanied by photographs of Trump supporters being water cannoned (instead of pictures of Trump supporters vandalising the house).

    Optics are an important part of policing – aaaaand hindsight is 20:20.

    Do you remember the video of the people in front of the Capitol building when one man was so upset he was begging and nearly haranguing the police to control the crowd?  And stop the agitators from banging on the Capitol’s front doors?  And the police just stood there as if under orders not to interfere and not to protect the Capitol.

    • #24
  25. Flicker Member
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    The Capitol Police had ludicrously bad riot control tactics.

    Also, I do not see how Ashli presented an imminent threat of death or grievous injury. Is there some footage of her with a ready weapon?

    But it’s not as if they hadn’t been trained in riot control.  So what gives?

    • #25
  26. Flicker Member
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Lawmakers from both parties who were present at the moment when Babbitt was shot have spoken out about the dangerous behavior of the crowd.

    I wasn’t there.

    Edit: that’s a quote from the Guardian, not Flicker – just to avoid misunderstanding or bitterness.

    But have you watched the videos (pl.) yet?

    • #26
  27. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    One quibble: it’s unclear to me that Babbitt had actually climbed through the window at the time she was shot–as opposed to entering the opening with an attempt to breach it.

    I haven’t re-re-re-watched the video, but it looked to me as if she had about half her torso through the window. She was clearly attempting to enter the room.

    Had a serious effort been made by anyone present to prevent her from climbing in, I would be more sanguine about her shooting. But the instantaneous escalation from passive acceptance to lethal force deserves a more public examination than it has received.

    I agree, and I suppose this may be semantics.  To me climbing “through” a window denotes having fully reached the other side.  As you stated immediately above, she was only partially in the window, which raises further questions about the need for deadly force.

    • #27
  28. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    The loss of life is tragic. However, I remain shocked that more rioters weren’t shot. It may be fair to ask why others weren’t fired upon or why other officers restrained themselves. But it should not be surprising that officers used deadly force when a mob forced its way into the Capitol and clearly sought to harm members of Congress.

    Is there a difference between “not surprising” and “justifiable”?  There are recognized standards for the use of deadly force and it’s questionable whether they have been met here.

    I frankly don’t understand the confusion on this. What am I missing? Is it because of the media double standard on a police shooting?

    There are three things going on–the media double standard, the silence of the Capitol Police on the whole issue, and the question of whether the use of deadly force was warranted under the circumstances.

     

    • #28
  29. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Flicker (View Comment):
    But have you watched the videos (pl.) yet?

    Yes, I’d seen them before.

    She was sure they wouldn’t shoot her, from what I can see.

    I think Henry’s got a point that the police essentially yielding till that moment created a false impression that members of the mob were at no personal risk, no matter what they did.

    And maybe that door marked a line beyond which the mob could not be allowed to go? Due to proximity to legislators.

    Edit:

    Also: Hats off to those policemen in front of the door. Grace under pressure.

    • #29
  30. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Baker (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    MDHahn (View Comment):

    Of course, Trump might have won reelection had local governments behaved responsibly. So I suppose it paid off in the end.

    You dont think the CHAZ stuff and the riots was a huge help to him? I think if local governments had behaved responsibly, Biden might have won bigger. Trump was generally unpopular but the narrative that the Dems are lawless and incapable of standing up to what amounts to terrorism was pretty strong.

    It stopped legitimate challenges going forward. Michigan officials responded to threats and it can be argued SCOTUS did too.

    • #30