NY Congressman Who Helped Establish “Hip-Hop Month” Pleads Guilty In Federal Court

Republicans say he should be placed in jail and that he committed the crime to cause confusion.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman has admitted in court to activating a fire alarm within a federal building—despite there not being a fire. According to ABC News, he described the incident as an “innocent mistake,” Bowman clarified that he pulled the fire alarm thinking it would trigger an emergency exit door to open.

The congressman took a plea deal, which will have him to pay the maximum fine of $1,000 and write an apology to Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger for the expenses that the force exerted thinking there was a fire on that day. The GOP is having a field day with this one, even calling for his arrest.

“Should Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman be arrested immediately?” Matt Wallace wrote.

Rep. Andy Biggs wrote added, “Congressman Jamaal Bowman was given a mere slap on the wrist for falsely pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building. What would have happened if he were a Republican Representative?”

Police said on September 30, a security camera captured the Bronx native pulling the fire alarm while attempting to exit the Cannon House Office Building. After he did that, the entire building had to be evacuated. Reviewing security camera footage, Capitol Police confirmed that Bowman tried to open the doors, but they were locked. After looking around, he resorted to pulling the fire alarm lever.

Rather than telling the police he did it and it was a  mistake, Bowman walked past the officers and went on his merry way to the Capitol building. He entered the building just four minutes after triggering the alarm, saying later, that he was rushing so he could make an important vote in Congress that would stop the government from being shut down. Falsely triggering a fire alarm constitutes a misdemeanor offense.

In a statement following his indictment, Bowman expressed gratitude for the swift resolution and accepted responsibility for activating the fire alarm. He will pay the maximum fine of $1,000 and serve three months of probation.

While there remains uncertainty about potential federal prosecution, Bowman is focusing his attention on correcting a narrative that Republicans are pushing. Some have suggested the “Squad” member pulled the lever to cause some political distractions. “1. Removed the warning signs. 2. Pulled the fire alarm. 3. Didn’t even try to open the door. How is Jamaal Bowman not obstructing an official proceeding?” Rep. Troy E. Nehls said.

While Bowman maintains it was a mistake and denies any conspiracy, he genuinely regrets the disruption caused to law enforcement and the public, acknowledging the embarrassment it has brought.

Bowman (NY-16), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) and Congresswoman Sydney-Kamlager Dove (CA-37) put forth the resolution in the House of Representatives that made August 11 “Hip Hop Celebration Day” and November “Hip Hop History Month.”