In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, an imposing security fence was erected around the perimeter of the Capitol complex in Washington D.C.
More than six months later, the last remnants of that fencing system are set to come down within a few days, according to a memo from House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker.
“Current threat environment”
An even taller outer perimeter fence topped with sharp wire was removed in March and most of the National Guard troops who were called in to patrol the security perimeter were relieved of duty in May.
In a tweet on Wednesday, political analyst Jake Sherman shared Walker’s memo to lawmakers.
🚨 NEW … Changes to the Capitol fence.
“the Board supports USCP’s recommendation to remove the temporary fencing around Capitol Square.”
fence will come down FRIDAY and will take 3 days pic.twitter.com/dmRCAVW041
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 7, 2021
According to that document, members of Congress and the Capitol Police Board “concurred” with the recommendations of the U.S. Capitol Police that the time had come to modify the “security posture” around the Capitol building.
In light of the “current threat environment” and “enhanced cooperation” between federal, local, state, and congressional law enforcement agencies, Walker confirmed that the fencing would be dismantled beginning on Friday. He noted that the entire process is expected to be complete within three days, “weather permitting.”
“Should conditions warrant”
The memo also noted that “intelligence information” and the “associated threat environment” would continue to be closely monitored and that the “Architect of the Capitol has the ability to and will expeditiously reinstall the temporary fencing should conditions warrant.”
Although the fencing is set to come down by next week, the House sergeant-at-arms made it clear that public access to the Capitol building would continue to be highly restricted.
According to Politico, a similar memo went out to senators and staffers from Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Karen Gibson delivering the same general message and advising that Capitol police would block access to certain portions of the complex with metal bike racks.
The use of security fencing around the Capitol building received widespread backlash from both sides of the aisle, including House Delegate Eleanor Norton Holmes (D-DC), and has been the site of protests and petitions demanding its removal.
While Walker’s memo appears to be good news for those who wanted to see the fencing removed, it also confirmed that the barriers could be reinstalled at a moment’s notice. It remains to be seen whether a real or imagined crisis will be seized upon as a justification for reimposing the foreboding perimeter around the nation’s Capitol.