U.S. Capitol Police officials are reportedly suggesting that the razor-topped fences encircling the Capitol should remain in place at least until the fall.
The request comes amid lingering threats against lawmakers since the Jan. 6 riot that left several dead and multiple people wounded, according to a source who spoke to The Associated Press.
The source, who reportedly spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak on the record, referenced alleged online talk among extremist groups as a reason for the maintenance of the imposing barricades. Police officials are worried about a repeat of the unrest that roiled Washington, D.C., last month.
Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman recently called for the fencing around the Capitol to remain permanently. “In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that the vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol,” Pittman said on Jan. 28.
The suggestion faced opposition from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who said, “We don’t want extra troops or fences to be a long-term fixture.” Some federal lawmakers are also weary of the continuing walls and troops. Forty-two members of Congress sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) earlier this month asking her to remove the fences. “It’s time for healing and it’s time for the removal of the fencing so the nation may move forward,” the letter said in part.
In addition to the fencing, some officials are reportedly floating the idea of also keeping the National Guard in D.C. at least into the fall.
As The Daily Wire reported:
The National Guard members who have been patrolling the sensitive areas on Capitol Hill since the riot last month might have to remain through most of 2021.
The National Security Council asked the Department of Defense to reach out to Capitol Police regarding how best to plan for National Guard presence after mid-March, according to an internal email obtained by local Fox 5.
Robert G. Salesses, who is the assistant secretary for homeland defense and global security, wrote in the email: “If it’s not possible to sustain at the current level with [National Guard] personnel, we need to establish the number of [National Guard] personnel (DCNG and out-of-state) we can sustain for an extended period – at least through Fall 2021 – and understand additional options for providing [Department of Defense] support, to include use of reserve personnel, as well as active component.”
Maj. Matt Murphy, a spokesman for the National Guard, told DCist that the current plan is for guardsmen to support federal agencies through mid-March, as was previously reported. “We are providing assistance such as security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics, and safety support to state, district and federal agencies,” Murphy added. “There are still approximately 6,000 personnel on duty.”