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Westchester Congressman Suspected in False Alarm in House Office Building

Picture showing a man who appeared to be Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., pulling the fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building, September 30.

On Saturday, September 30, Westchester’s Democrat member of Congress Jamaal Bowman acknowledged that he triggered a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Congress was in session that day as members were working to pass a bill funding the US government, before the midnight deadline. The Federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30. The alarm sounded around noon, prompting a building-wide evacuation. Capitol Police reopened Cannon an hour later, after no threat was detected.

The House Administration Committee, which oversees the Capitol Complex, posted a photo of Bowman pulling the fire alarm. Bowman’s office released a statement declaring it “a mistake.”

“I want to personally clear up confusion surrounding today’s events,” the representative stated. “Today, as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes but today would not open. I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused.”

Bowman continued: “I want to be very clear this was not me in any way trying to delay any vote. It was the exact opposite. I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I ultimately did, and join my colleagues in a bipartisan effort to keep our government open.” Bowman added: “I also met, after the vote, with the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Capitol Police, at their request, and explained what happened. My hope is that no one will make more of this than it was. I am working hard, every day including today, to do my job, to do it well and deliver for my constituents.”

Some members of Congress have suggested a motion to expel him for obstruction of Congress. In the meantime, both the Capitol Police and the House Administration Committee are investigating the situation. Representative Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) has introduced a resolution to expel Bowman from the House. Bowman’s office sent out guidance to other Democrat House members. One proposed rebuttal, in the original release, suggested, “Republicans need to instead focus their energy on the Nazi members of their party before anything else.”

Democrat Justin Brasch, White Plains Council president, said: “It is a little bit unbelievable that a former middle-school principal doesn’t know what it means to pull a fire alarm. I don’t know why he pulled it; I don’t think anybody knows why. But clearly, he pulled it. He knows what a fire alarm is—it’s not a door. It’s clearly marked as a fire alarm.”

An October 5 article on the website PrimaryBowman.com is titled “Rep. Bowman Is a Liar. And Dangerous,” claims “Bowman is very dangerous and doesn’t represent the values of his district. The current controversy of whether Bowman pulled a fire alarm in Congress is a small part of the story. He either pulled the alarm because 1) he’s an idiot who can’t read the word ‘FIRE’ or doesn’t know what a fire alarm looks like despite years as a middle-school principal, running dozens of fire drills; 2) did it on purpose and put thousands of lives at risk, both in causing the evacuation of the building and pulling firefighters from actual emergencies, so he can delay a House vote to give Democrats more time to assess their strategy; or 3) was simply ‘confused’ as he’d like you to believe.”

The article continues: “Bowman’s staff then tried to protect their master by swearing allegiance to him and calling Republicans ‘Nazis’ to distract attention from the episode. After complaints of using the genocide of Jews as a ‘political fig leaf, Bowman denied that he approved use of the word. ‘I condemn the use of the term Nazi out of its precise definition. It is important to specify the term Nazi to refer to members of the Nazi party and neo-Nazis.’”

Brasch added: “I worked very hard to build a relationship with him. When I could not convince him to go to President Herzog’s speech in Congress, that was when I ended my relationship.”

Days before the Herzog speech, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) made a statement calling Israel a “racist state.” This triggered a vote in the House for a non-binding resolution condemning antisemitism and expressing support for Israel, which passed 412-9, with 195 Democrats joining all Republicans in voting yes. Congressman Jamaal Bowman was among nine voting against the resolution.

Since July, there has been a bigger push to find a strong challenger to Bowman. Many have suggested County Executive George Latimer. Latimer has yet to enter the race.

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