Retired Capitol Hill officer on insurrection: ‘Somebody dropped the ball’

Former Police Officer Theortis 'Butch' Jones worked on the Capitol for 37 years

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The insurrection that took place on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 was viscerally felt across the nation and globe. A former Black police officer who worked there for 37 years believes it is an indictment of existing problems.

Retired Capitol Police Officer Theortis “Butch” Jones protected the U.S. Capitol Hill from December 1973 and retired in June 2009. Like others across the country, he watched in horror as a white mob supporting President Donald Trump sieged the Capitol.

Capitol Jones
(Credit: screenshot and Jones)

Read More: Off-duty police officers among rioters, one Capitol officer says

Five people died because of the mayhem, including police officer Brian D. Sicknick.

“I was just so appalled to see the officers being run over the way that it was. One of the buildings being breached, the way it was done, I want to say that would never happen with the experience when we were coming up. That would have never happened. They wouldn’t have gotten that close to the steps,” Jones exclusively tells theGrio.

“Somebody dropped the ball.”

In addition to the breach in security, Jones was particularly offended to see right-wing extremists waving the Confederate flag in the Capitol. Jones served in Vietnam and that service wasn’t afforded any respect.

“That is an insult to every police officer, especially Black officers that work up on Capitol Hill,” he declares.

“When I [was in] the department, the majority of the officers at that time had been in the military … and to come out and fight for democracy and you see it destroyed on Capitol Hill … to see the Confederate flag flying on Capitol Hill is an insult.”

Read More: Clarence Thomas’ wife supported rioters before siege: ‘Love MAGA’

Eunique Jones Gibson, content creator and founder of Because of Them, We Can™” campaign, took to Twitter in the aftermath of the domestic terrorism act and wanted her father’s time on the Hill amplified. His wisdom was far too important to simply be kept in the family.

CNN, NPR, The ReidOut, PBS, and other outlets heeded that message. Jones has made appearances on these platforms to help bring about change.

“I think that his experiences on the Hill as a Black police officer starting out in the 70s, somebody who helped establish the Black Police Association on Capitol Hill, is very unique and it isn’t a perspective that we hear often,” Gibson shares with theGrio.

Capitol Jones
Former Capitol Hill Police Officer Theortis “Butch” Jones and daughter Eunique Jones Gibson (Credit: Jones)

His insights are particularly needed as the disparate treatment in how Black Lives Matter protesters and those destroying the Capitol was on full display. Race colors that double standard.

“It’s clear, rather, that there are two approaches, two vastly different approaches based on race and that policing is different based on race there, how you perceive a threat is different based on race,” she says.

Gibson continues, “I think that it is something that people with privilege can no longer turn away from.”

Read More: Congressional Black Caucus says law enforcement ‘complicit’ in Capitol attack, calls for immediate investigation

Jones is willing to share his story with those willing to listen.

Capitol Jones
(Credit: Jones)

Wednesday’s attack was just too egregious for him to keep quiet. In one instance, the officers present were seen taking selfies with the protesters and appearing to allow them entrance into the building.

Jones believes the events of Jan. 6 was a result of not having a plan.

“I think the management, the police board, the chief of police was not prepared, did not prepare for this magnitude of demonstrators to come on Capitol Hill. They didn’t bring in Metropolitan, United States Park police, military. Nothing,” Jones says.

“They had no backup. They had no horses. They had nothing. I think if I was just a regular person, I would think they were set up.”

During his time as an officer on the Hill, Jones helped form a Black Police Officers Association union and described the discrimination he faced within the institution. The association filed a lawsuit that has been in court for 20 years.

“I was tormented by the department. I was locked up by my department. I was taken to court by my department. I won the case,” he says.

He adds that the majority of traffic stops on Capitol Hill were carried out against the majority of Black people.

The U.S. Capitol as seen on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

He offers what is needed to address the disparate treatment.

“I think you first have to reform Capitol Hill. That’s where the law is made. And, you know, Capitol Hill is known as the last plantation and the last plantation and the good ‘ole boy system. That’s what needs to be reformed is the good old boy system. And what goes on at the top trickles down to the bottom,” he maintains.

President-elect Joe Biden declared that Black lives Matter protesters would’ve been treated differently. Jones would be “delighted” to have a conversation with him. Ultimately, he felt everyone’s voices needed to be heard.

“This was a tragedy as far as I’m concerned. This was a tragedy to our country, to Capitol Hill,” he says.

“I just think that something needs to be done. People need to come together and talk and be real.”

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