Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey are the heroes who kept the shooting on Wednesday from being the “massacre” Congress members say it could have been. Both of the officers are on Rep. Steve Scalise’s security detail and put their lives on the line to respond when shots rang out at a congressional baseball practice.
Scalise was standing near second base and was shot by James Hodgkinson before both Griner and Bailey rushed into action, taking down the shooter despite both being injured. Both have since been taken to the hospital and are recovering from their injuries.
“Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Senator Rand Paul said to MSNBC. Majority Leader Eric Cantor praised both agents, who had served on his protection detail before. “[Griner’s] an incredibly able and professional individual who always takes her job and responsibility seriously,” Cantor told The Daily Beast. “It is not surprising to hear of her heroism and bravery during this horrible attack.”
“The bravery David showed reflects the kind of commitment he, Crystal, and the team demonstrated each and every day,” Cantor continued. “Incidents like the attack today are never something many of us even imagine happening. David is a trained professional who was and remains ready to act whatever the threat. Wishing him a full recovery.”
After being shot, Griner and her wife, Tiffany, were given a bouquet of white flowers by President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, as she recovered in the hospital. Both agents’ injuries have been described as non-life-threatening.
Now all Mr. Bunch and a team of colleagues had to do was find an unprecedented number of private donors willing to finance a public museum. They had to secure hundreds of millions of additional dollars from a Congress, Republican controlled, that had long fought the project.
And they had to counter efforts to locate the museum not at the center of Washington’s cultural landscape on the National Mall, but several blocks offstage. “I knew it was going to be hard, but not how hard it was going to be,” Mr. Bunch, 63, said in an interview last month.
In less than three weeks, though, with President Obama presiding, the new museum, a project that once thirsted for money, land and political support, is scheduled to open on the Mall.
Visitors to the $540 million building, designed to resemble a three-tiered crown, will encounter the sweeping history of black America from the Middle Passage of slavery to the achievements and complexities of modern black life.
But also compelling is the story of how the museum itself came to be through a combination of negotiation, diplomacy, persistence and cunning political instincts. The strategy included an approach that framed the museum as an institution for all Americans, one that depicted the black experience, as Mr. Bunch often puts it, as “the quintessential American story” of measured progress and remarkable achievement after an ugly period of painful oppression.
The tactics included the appointment of Republicans like Laura Bush and Colin L. Powell to the museum’s board to broaden bipartisan support beyond Democratic constituencies, and there were critical efforts to shape the thinking of essential political leaders.
Long before its building was complete, for example, the museum staged exhibitions off-site, some on the fraught topics it would confront, such as Thomas Jefferson’s deep involvement with slavery. A Virginia delegation of congressional members was brought through for an early tour of the Jefferson exhibition, which featured a statue of him in front of a semicircular wall marked with 612 names of people he had owned. “I remember being very impacted,” said Eric Cantor, then the House Republican leader, who was part of the delegation.
Mr. Bunch said that he hoped the Jefferson exhibition pre-empted criticism by establishing the museum’s bold but balanced approach to difficult material. “Some people were like, ‘How dare you equate Jefferson with slavery,’” he recalled. “But it means that people are going to say, ‘Of course, that is what they have to do.’”