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Norton Says Fencing Around Capitol Complex Should Not Be Permanent

February 11, 2021 by TWN Staff
A portion of the fencing and razor wire during deployed around the U.S. Capitol complex. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s delegate to Congress, says the fencing and razor wire currently wrapped around the U.S. Capitol should not be allowed to become a permanent feature.

On Thursday she introduced the No Fencing at the United States Capitol Complex Act, which would prohibit the installation of permanent fencing on the grounds of the United States Capitol complex.

In recent weeks, Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman and other officials have recommended permanent fencing as a security measure following the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Norton criticized permanent fencing as both cosmetic and imprecise and instead called for smarter, state-of-the-art solutions.

“Permanent fencing would send an un-American message to the nation and the world, by transforming our democracy from one that is accessible and of the people to one that is exclusive and fearful of its own citizens,” Norton said.

“Already, the distance between government and the people has grown, with trust in government at historic lows. We should not entrench that distance further by placing intimidating barriers between ourselves as public servants and the people we serve, especially when such barriers are neither effective nor necessary, she said.”

In her introductory remarks, Norton highlighted the fact that security experts are already brainstorming innovative ways to protect the Capitol without permanent fencing, and called on her colleagues to “foster that dialogue and welcome fresh ideas, not default to an archaic security strategy that humans invented over 10,000 years ago.”

Norton on Thursday also sent a letter urging the clerk of the House of Representatives and the Architect of the Capitol to find ways to preserve and display artifacts from the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Norton said she thinks these officials will understand the importance of preserving and displaying artifacts from the attack because of their historical significance, but she wrote to them to confirm they will do so.

If necessary, she said, she will introduce a bill directing them to do so.

“Preserving and displaying artifacts from the insurrection would be a powerful way to anchor this tragedy in our history and to ensure that we, and future generations, remember and reflect on a day when our democracy was attacked,” Norton said. “Articles, photographs, and videos do much to capture what happened that day, but artifacts from the attack may have a deeper power despite their silence. We must do everything in our power to ensure this story is told today and forever.”

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