Remaining Capitol fence to be removed starting Friday
U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) will begin to remove the remaining fencing around the Capitol on Friday, deconstructing a controversial barrier put in place following the Jan. 6 riot.
“Based on the current threat environment, recent enhancements to USCP response capabilities, and enhanced coordination with local, state and federal law enforcement, the Capitol Police Board is supporting USCP’s recommendation to remove the temporary fencing around Capitol Square,” the USCP wrote in an email to lawmakers obtained by The Hill on Wednesday.
Capitol Police noted that the fencing could be down in two or three days, weather permitting.
The announcement comes just a day after the six-month anniversary of the riot, when scores of former President Trump’s supporters pressed into the Capitol complex, forcing lawmakers, staff and others to flee to more secure areas.
The timing also falls after the Fourth of July, another date some feared could spur interest from those who have called for an insurrection.
The removal of the fencing would mark one of the last physical security measures to be lifted following the attack, though lawmakers are still required to go through metal detectors before going to vote, and the building remains closed to the general public.
The notice to staff warned that the fencing would return if Capitol Police believe there is a threat.
“Please note that the Architect of the Capitol has the ability to and will reinstall the temporary fencing should conditions warrant,” it said.
Though multiple lawmakers have called for a number of reforms within the Capitol Police, including increased protection from the force when in their districts, many complained the fencing was an eyesore that kept the public away from an unusually accessible government building.
Capitol Police have slowly chipped away at the extra security measures put in place after the attack, in March removing a second fence that stretched even farther around the perimeter.
National Guard presence, which once swelled to 25,000 troops ahead of President Biden’s inauguration, slowly ratcheted down before the final troops were sent home at the end of May.
Updated 5:45 p.m.