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Capitol Evacuated Over Parachute Stunt Misunderstanding in Very Normal Country

A terrifying stretch at the Capitol turns out to have been the results of a military appreciation night celebration at a nearby baseball game.

FILE - Light shines from the U.S. Capitol dome after sunset, Jan. 25, 2022, in Washington. U.S. Capitol Police have ordered the evacuation of the Capitol complex, saying they are tracking an aircraft that poses a probable threat. The alert was sent to congressional staffers Wednesday, April 20, evening. Police provided no additional information. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)FILE - Light shines from the U.S. Capitol dome after sunset, Jan. 25, 2022, in Washington. U.S. Capitol Police have ordered the evacuation of the Capitol complex, saying they are tracking an aircraft that poses a probable threat. The alert was sent to congressional staffers Wednesday, April 20, evening. Police provided no additional information. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Light shines from the U.S. Capitol dome after sunset, on Jan. 25, 2022, in Washington. D.C.

AP

The U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday evening ordered the evacuation of the Capitol, citing an “an aircraft that poses a probable threat to the Capitol Complex.” Minutes after issuing the alert, the Capitol Police tweeted that the building was “evacuated out of an abundance of caution” and that there “is no threat at the Capitol.”

Multiple outlets have reported that the plane in question was part of a military appreciation night during a baseball game at the Washington Nationals stadium, which is just south of the Capitol. The Department of Defense reportedly did not inform the Capitol Police that the demonstration, which included people parachuting onto the field, was taking place. The Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For about 30 minutes, the Capitol Police’s announcement for evacuation immediately triggered memories of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and, secondarily, the U.S. Capitol Attack on Jan. 6, 2021 — and served as a reminder of the overall chaotic and frightening state of the country.

Fortunately it seems in this case that the issue was a communications breakdown between officials, which is less alarming, but still less than great.

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