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David Rasbach being interrupted as the children's choir sings.Twitter

(LifeSiteNews) — Lawmakers are criticizing Capitol police for interrupting children singing in the U.S. Capitol building, preventing them from finishing a performance of the National Anthem. 

On Friday, May 26, the Rushingbrook Children’s Choir from Greenville, South Carolina, was told to stop singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” because a police officer deemed the performance a “demonstration.” 

Although the officer denied that the choir was allowed to sing  in the Capitol building, the group reportedly had been granted permission, with the help of state representatives and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, to perform a small repertoire of patriotic songs 

In a 26 second clip circulating on Twitter, the choir’s director and founder, David Rasbach, can be seen conducting a small group of children beautifully singing the National Anthem. A female police officer in the background speaks to one of the choir’s guides, who then approaches Rasbach and tells him that, per police instructions, the choir must stop singing. Rasbach then stops the performance, looking as confused as the children. 

“The man who tapped me on the shoulder was from [Republican Rep.] Joe Wilson’s office,” Rasbach told the “Gateway Pundit.” Wilson was one of three congressmen who helped organize the choir’s trip to the nation’s capital and their performance. “He’s the one the police lady told to go shut us down.” 

Rasbach spoke to the officer and rejected her claim that the performance was “a demonstration.” He verified that she was telling him “a group of children can’t sing the National Anthem in their own Capitol.” The officer reportedly added that “The Star-Spangled Banner” could be “offensive” to some people and claimed that authorization for the performance was incorrect. 

READ: Man who told LifeSite about entering Capitol building on January 6 is convicted of 7 charges 

The trip was organized by The Rea Group, whose founder confirmed to The Daily Signal that McCarthy’s office had been contacted to verify that the choir had permission to perform. Micah Rea also shared that although the Architect of the Capitol’s visitor operations manager Andrew Tremel initially stopped the children from singing, he reversed his action after learning that congressional offices had already granted permission. 

In a statement sent to The Daily Signal via email, Capitol police denied claims that they had unjustly prevented the children from singing the National Anthem.  

“Demonstrations and musical performances are not allowed in the U.S. Capitol,” the statement reads. “Of course, because the singers in this situation were children, our officers were reasonable and allowed the children to finish their beautiful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

Capitol police also claimed that “the Congressional staff member who was accompanying the group knew the rules yet lied to the officers multiple times about having permission from various offices. The staffer put both the choir and our officers, who were simply doing their jobs, in an awkward and embarrassing position.” 

Rea called the statement “a bald-faced lie” and said that the police officer in question “did everything she could to stop us and not let us continue singing, period.” 

Capitol police later told The Epoch Times in a statement that they had “apologized” for interrupting the permitted performance, blaming the incident on a “miscommunication.” 

Lawmakers respond to “unacceptable” actions of Capitol police 

After news of the unprecedented silencing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” broke, U.S. representatives took to Twitter to condemn the incident. Kevin McCarthy called the behavior “unacceptable” and further confirmed that “these children were welcomed by my office because your Capitol is back open, particularly for school groups.” 

The House Speaker then tagged the South Carolina representatives who had helped the kids gain permission for the trip and wrote, “I look forward to having them back to perform in the halls of Congress.” 

“What is happening to our country?” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin posted. “Instead of stopping children singing the National Anthem, let’s stop the Radical Leftists who are destroying America.” 

Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas called the incident “HORRIBLE,” adding that “this is a grave violation of their [the choir] free speech rights. Capitol Police have no business deciding what speech is ok!” 

“The National Anthem sung by children is not offensive,” Georgia’s Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene added. “It’s needed more.”