Removal of fence around US Capitol building begins 6 months after riot

Washington, July 9 (EFE).- Authorities Friday began removing the last section of the metal fence around the US Capitol building, six months after a riot that left five dead and put the country’s democracy to the test.

Amid anticipations and in front of several cameras, a member of the Capitol Police took down a white sign that read “Closed Area” written in red letters from one of the fences and added in black lettering that it was a decision of the Capitol Police board.

Despite the gesture, the fence remained in place for hours while people waited for it to be dismantled.

Around 3 pm, several workers began to unscrew part of the fence.

Thus began the process of dismantling the 2.4-meter (8 feet) high black metal fence.

It had restricted the passage of vehicles and pedestrians since the authorities decided to boost security at the Capitol after the assault on Jan. 6.

The Capitol police have declined to give details on the exact deadlines for removing the fence or the steps to be followed due to security reasons.

This week, however, US House of Representatives Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker sent a memo to members of Congress, informing them of the removal of the fence.

In that memo, to which EFE has access, Walker indicated that the fence would be removed on Friday, and the process would take about three days, weather conditions permitting.

The Capitol police have decided to remove the fencing after concluding that it is safe to do so, Walker said, adding that it could be quickly reinstalled if the situation required.

Despite the removal of the fence, tourists would still not be allowed inside the Capitol due to safety measures imposed on account of the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, several guards at the Capitol’s entrance ask those who wish to enter for a card showing they’re from the media, legislators, or staff at the Congress.

On Jan. 6, hundreds of supporters of former Republican President Donald Trump (2017-2021) stormed the Capitol building to prevent the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in the November elections, in which Trump made unsubstantiated claims of fraud.

Five people were killed, including a police official. Days after the attack, two other officials committed suicide.

About 140 police officials were attacked by pro-Trump protesters, who were armed with axes, baseball bats, hockey sticks, and other weapons, according to data from authorities.

So far, more than 530 people have been charged in the riot, including various crimes of assault against the authorities. EFE


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