The D.C. Council is asking Congressional leaders to remove the fencing around the U.S. Capitol, a remnant from the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot.
Ward 6 council member Charles Allen, along with other members of the council, said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they oppose any permanent expansion of the security perimeter surrounding the Capitol grounds, as well as any loss of public access to the complex and surrounding public spaces.
Members of the council said that a hardened security perimeter “topped with razor wire is the wrong solution for the failures that took place on Jan. 6,” when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes that declared Joe Biden’s presidential win.
Council member At-Large Robert C. White Jr. has asked Senate and House committee chairs on Homeland Security for a hearing examining whether “bias in threat assessments by law enforcement created a substantial homeland security vulnerability in the wake of a rising number of homegrown extremists.”
The council members’ request to remove the fencing contrasts with what U.S. Capitol Police told congressional leaders last week, when they asked that the razor-wire topped fencing remain in place for several more months — until September — as law enforcement continues to track threats against lawmakers, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
The council also said that with the departure of the National Guard next month, the “external posture at the Capitol needs to change as well.”
They said that the fencing has created delays in D.C.’s emergency response system, as emergency response crews have to use longer and less-direct routes. It has also affected the council’s access, “with barriers and delays to the transmission of laws for legally-required Congressional review, something that would end with the District of Columbia becoming the 51st state in our union,” the letter said.
“And further, the fencing and street closures have deeply impacted transportation for residents to work, school, health care, and other needs — whether traveling by bus, foot, bike, or vehicle,” which would only grow when the District returns to pre-pandemic operations.