DC Council member doesn’t want Capitol to be ‘fortress’ that keeps people away

A D.C. Council member said that despite what happened when rioters stormed the Capitol, it should not be an excuse to wall off the area and “turn it into a fortress from the people.”

Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen responded to a report that the perimeter of the Capitol could be moved outward.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat, told reporters Tuesday that there’s a “very good chance” that the perimeter could be extended, The Hill reported.

Instead, “Let’s address the security needs inside the Capitol,” Allen said in a statement.

Allen wants an update on U.S. Capitol Police’s plan to remove the barriers, fencing and barbed wire placed along the grounds and the surrounding neighborhood.

Allen said that he agrees with keeping the Capitol safe, but it is also part of a community with neighbors who “do not want to be walled off behind barbed wire from treasured public spaces.”

He also wants road closures lifted so the Capitol can again be connected to downtown. At the very least, Allen would like the barbed wires removed.

“Temporary security measures have a way of becoming permanent in this town,” and it would be “tragic” to lose access, openness and public space, Allen said.

He’s encouraging U.S. Capitol Police not only to improve the safety of those inside the Capitol, but also to work with D.C. and the Capitol Hill community on any changes that might affect access to the grounds.

Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman apologized to members of Congress on Tuesday for the deadly attack on Jan. 6, saying the department failed to adequately protect lawmakers and the Capitol.

“Let me be clear: The department should have been more prepared for this attack,” Pittman said in her testimony to the House Appropriations Committee, of which Ryan is the chair of a subcommittee overseeing funding for the legislative branch.

There are still 13,000 National Guard troops in the District, but that will be decreased to 7,000 by the end of this week, according to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson. Those members who remain will assist specific agencies with security for two weeks.

Some 5,000 troops will likely remain in D.C. into the month of March, Hokanson said during a Department of Defense news conference Monday.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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