After more than two months of a seven-foot barb wire fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol, it has been taken down.
Acting Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett sent a memo to members of Congress and congressional staff on Friday, March 19th that CNN also obtained, informing everyone that the U.S. Capitol Police would partner with the Capitol’s architect to remove the outer perimeter fencing around the Capitol. The removal of the fence comes more than two months after it was put up following the riots which occurred on the grounds of the Capitol on January 6.
On January 6th, Congress had a joint session to count the electoral votes. President Trump had a rally that morning, and some supporters and other people ventured over to the Capitol building. People began rioting which led to thousands breaching the Capitol grounds, hundreds making it into the building, and lawmakers going into lockdown. Damage to the Capitol’s interior and exterior included broken glass, broken doors, graffiti, and historical statues and murals were damaged from fire extinguishers and chemical irritants. Because of this, less than twenty-four hours later, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced that a seven-foot non-scalable fence would be put up for at least thirty days. Furthermore, a wider fence was put up around the larger Capitol complex, and National Guardsmen and police officers patrol the Capitol grounds. Brett Blanton, the architect of the Capitol, reported that the current fencing cost $1.9 million per week when it was installed, but it has been negotiated down to $1.2 million per week.
In an intense, often divisive political climate, calling for the removal of the Capitol fencing has mostly been a bipartisan effort. There are many reasons that members of Congress, business owners, D.C. residents, and security experts have given for wanting the fencing removed. Security expert Mark Warren, who is the Executive Vice President of Strategos International LLC, told US News that a fence doesn’t always work, and it can slow law enforcement down in the case of an emergency. Warren went on to say that, “I think they’re hurting themselves more by keeping the fencing up. The Congress is supposed to be closest to the people. When they separate themselves from the people with the visual of the fence, it damages them – just by the view.” Both Democrat and Republican members of Congress share Warren’s view. The Hill shared the following quotes: “Rep.Elise Stefanik (R, NY) declared that she was ‘adamantly opposed’ to fencing around the ‘People’s House,’ while Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D, MA) said that ‘it is a mistake to turn the home of our democracy into a fortress.’” The Wall Street Journal reported that local officials have said the fencing around the Capitol has disrupted transportation on major streets and blocked residents from parkland and other open spaces. It has even prevented some restaurants, who were caught inside the perimeter, from being open (Roll Call).
Following the removal of the outer perimeter of fencing, a bipartisan pair of senators, Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), are set to introduce legislation on March 25th that would ban federal funding from being used to build a permanent fence around the Capitol building or on the grounds. Moving forward, many Americans are hoping the Capitol can become more accessible to “We the People.”
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ARTICLE: KATE SCHLESSELMAN
FBA US NEWS EDITOR: CARSON WOLF
PHOTO CREDITS: WASHINGTONIAN