Protests have begun against the fencing and military-style encampment surrounding the U.S. Capitol erected shortly after the Jan. 6 riot, as D.C. residents rail against the loss of “access” to parts of the city.
“Bring your dogs, your kids, your bike, a picnic blanket with snacks, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls, or whatever else you want to show how you use the part of our city currently blocked off by barbed wire,” said an announcement for a Saturday protest organized by The Hill is Home and Eat DC.
“The four miles of barbed wire fence around the Capitol complex have cut off our access to open spaces and essential roads through the city,” protest organizers noted. “These are areas where we play, relax, walk our dogs, enjoy the flowers, commute to work, and connect with friends. The roads are also critical routes for emergency personnel to reach us and keep us safe.”
Organizers urged residents who could not be at the demonstration to post photos of the fence on social media using the hashtag #OurDC.
— Sandra Moscoso (@sandramoscoso) March 13, 2021
@theHillisHome would have been nice to spend the day on the Capitol grounds with spring flowers or easily get to the other side on the Capitol but … as neighbors on Capitol Hill we live with the consequences #ourdc #dontfencedc pic.twitter.com/NcWFhCXUz3
— B Carroll (@bscndc) March 13, 2021
— Christy Leavitt (@DCChristy) March 13, 2021
— Karens Wear Masks, JD (@websitemgmt) March 13, 2021
— Andy McKinley (@AdultGambino1) March 13, 2021
Take down the fence! Thank you @EleanorNorton and @charlesallen for your leadership ..hill residents are here to support you ..#OurDC #donotfencedc @theHillisHome @WashProbs @washingtonpost pic.twitter.com/tiWqWjDMk2
— Ajit (@RathChakra) March 13, 2021
Republicans have blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, in her position, is in charge of Capitol security, for keeping the fence, which is lined with razor wire and patrolled by thousands of National Guard troops, installed.
“Capitol Police has repeatedly failed to provide specific, credible threat intelligence to adequately justify the current Capitol security posture, which remains disproportionate to the available intelligence,” a group of five GOP senators wrote in a letter to Capitol Police last week asking for justification as to why the fence remains in place.
The letter was signed by Sens. James Inhofe (Okla.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Roy Blunt (Mo.).
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell likened the fencing and security to a war zone.
“I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that my constituents can’t come to the Capitol. With all this razor wire around the complex it reminds me of my last visit to Kabul,” he said.
Some of them have dubbed the complex “Fort Pelosi.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we start quartering soldiers in the committee hearing rooms,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said last month during a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“There’s plenty in the parking garages at Fort Pelosi. Maybe we can start unreasonably seizing and searching members of Congress. Oh, wait, we’re already doing that in House chambers,” she added.
Rep. Michael Waltz, (R-Fla.), a former U.S. Army Green Beret officer, also dubbed the Capitol Complex “Fort Pelosi.”
“I’m still a serving national guardsman, and I can appreciate that those soldiers were pulled out of their businesses, their jobs, their families, and they’re sitting there with this open-ended mandate,” he told Fox Business Network.
Meanwhile, the cost of keeping troops in the Capitol continues to climb. This week, Pentagon officials announced that about 2,300 Guard troops would remain in D.C. at least until May 23, which will bring the total cost of the deployment to more than a half-billion dollars since January, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Defense Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed that the Pentagon, not states, would be paying the costs.
“As the U.S. Capitol Police continues to build its personnel capacity, there is no doubt that some level of support from the National Guard should remain in the National Capital region to respond to credible threats against the Capitol. However, the present security posture is not warranted at this time,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and ranking member Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said in a joint statement this week.
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