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Security Fencing Removal Draws Tourists To U.S. Capitol Grounds

After six months of enhanced security measures in the wake of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the only disturbance confronting tourists and other visitors on the grounds of the people’s house Saturday, July 17 were ducks demanding extra bread crumbs at a pond on the West Front.

Meanwhile, community leaders and D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners voiced pleasure that the tall brown fence is finally gone thanks to lobby efforts of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

“Finally, the fencing around the Capitol complex is beginning to come down, representing an enormous victory for D.C. residents and the American people,” Norton said in a statement in March.

“This week, the Architect of the Capitol and the Capitol Police will move the inner fencing around Capitol Square closer to the Capitol, which will allow more pedestrian access to the sidewalks and walkways. Next week, the outer perimeter fencing will be removed. I’ll keep fighting to remove all of the fencing.”

Lisa White, a resident of Northeast D.C. and former Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, said, “I am glad the fence is down because it just helps with the overall atheistic of the area.”

It took from March to July for all the fencing to come down and on Saturday some people drove from as far away as Boston, Mass. and Buffalo, N.Y. to romp on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

“We saw on TV that the fence was down so we came down,” said Arturo Gonzalez, who brought his wife and children down from Harrisburg, Pa. “When I came before the fence was up.”

Morgan Griffith, a graduate physical therapy student at George Washington University, decided to jog near the reflecting pool. “I am really excited I just hope that we can get the city back to its full potential.”

Kelly Cook came down from Buffalo, N.Y. with her husband and their son and daughter. “Covid-19 made our family think about making a bucket list of places we want to see. Do you have a list ?”

Norton said in her effort to reopen the grounds of the US Capitol, “It’s the year 2021, and we should not be relying on security theater based on 19th-century ideas when state-of-the-art options and cooperation among security forces could have prevented the events of January 6th.”

Cook said nobody could have ever predicted the January 6 incident. She thought it was a combination of things. “In the wake of everything that has happen there was a lot of pent up frustration.”

Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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