Opinion: Removing Intrusive Security Barrier Around the US Capitol

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A child on a balance bike looks at security behind fencing near the US Capitol, Jan. 20, 2021. E.O'Gorek

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) is a community organization advocating for the health, welfare, and preservation of the Capitol Hill community. CHRS notes with deep concern the immediate damage that the extensive metal and razor wire fence that surrounds the United States Capitol Building and outlying blocks is causing to our nation’s public image and our democratic institutions.

This is the people’s building. The parks the fence encloses are the people’s parks. And the streets belong to the people as well.

While we recognize that the security of the Capitol Building is of paramount importance, we believe that this intrusive security barrier should be removed as soon as possible. It extends far beyond the Capitol Building, cuts off important streets that are needed for day-to-day transportation, and essentially blockades the east part of the city from the west at its core.

The gateless fence also limits access to parks, monuments, and buildings that are intended for public use and further makes direct interaction with the Congress impossible. It is an affront to democracy, a grating intrusion on the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood and is causing direct and immediate harm to citizens and visitors alike.

CHRS strongly urges:

  1. That the unsightly and overbearing metal and razor wire fence now in place should immediately be removed.
  2. That Congress should establish a commission to study and recommend how best to permanently protect the Capitol while respecting its historic and architectural integrity and the practical requirements of citizen access.

Beth Purcell is President or the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. Learn more about CHRS by visiting chrs.org