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Congressman Jamaal Bowman pleads guilty in fire alarm fiasco

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Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) pleaded guilty on Thursday to falsely pulling a fire alarm in a Congressional office building. It caused evacuations before the House was set to vote on a last-minute spending bill.

“I regret Capitol Police resources needed to be used to respond to that. I’m glad no one was hurt,” Bowman told ABC News after his court appearance.

On Sept. 30, the House of Representatives were set to vote on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open a few more months in a bitterly divided Congress.

Democrats wanted funding for Ukraine and Republicans wanted funding for the border. Capitol Police released footage showing Congressman Jamaal Bowman intentionally pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon building the day of the vote.

congressman jamaal bowman
Congressman Jamaal Bowman, D-NY, faces an investigation after he says he accidentally pulled a fire alarm while trying to open a door in the Cannon building on Capitol Hill during a House vote on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (U.S. Capitol Police/

Bowman, a former teacher, claimed he pulled the alarm because he was unable to unlock the door. He said he didn’t realize it would trigger an alarm across the entire building.

However, Republicans immediately accused him of attempting to obstruct House proceedings. They compared Bowman’s stunt to the serious crime Trump has been accused of committing on Jan. 6, 2021.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman faces accountability

On Wednesday, Bowman took responsibility for the disruption, which resulted in a misdemeanor charge.

“I’m thankful for the quick resolution from the District of Columbia Attorney General’s office on this issue and grateful that the United States Capitol Police General Counsel’s office agreed I did not obstruct nor intend to obstruct any House vote or proceedings,” Congressman Jamaal Bowman said. “I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped.”

Capitol Police said Bowman walked right past them after pulling the alarm without notifying them.

In response, Bowman claimed he didn’t notify Capitol Police because he didn’t want to miss voting on the bill.

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Bowman: “Let’s move on”

A member of the progressive “Squad,” Congressman Jamaal Bowman has pushed for gun reform, reparations to American descendants of enslaved people, and sparred with far-right conservatives like Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“I think we all know that Republicans will attempt to use this to distract everyone from their mess, but I look forward to putting this behind me and to continue working hard to deliver for New Yorkers,” he said after being charged Wednesday.

Ultimately, in exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors will move to vacate a January court date. Bowman must pay a $1,000 fine and serve three months’ probation. He also must write a formal apology to Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger.

“I’m thankful that, you know, we have an agreement in place and I’m thankful that in three months, it’s going to be dismissed. And now let’s move on,” Bowman told reporters on Thursday.

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