WASHINGTON (AP) — Fencing installed around the U.S. Capitol for months after the January 2021 insurrection will be put back up before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday as concern grows about potential demonstrations or truck convoys snarling traffic in the nation’s capital.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement Sunday that the fence will be erected around the Capitol building for the speech and is being put up “out of an abundance of caution,” in consultation with the Secret Service.
The move comes as officials in Washington prepare for trucker convoys that are planning protests against pandemic restrictions beginning this week. The Pentagon has already approved the deployment of 700 unarmed National Guard troops to be used to assist with traffic control during potential demonstrations.
Modeled after recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums. Many have different starting points, departure dates and routes, though some are scheduled to arrive in time for the State of the Union address. Others may arrive afterward.
Manger said his force’s “mission to protect the United States Congress, the Capitol, and the legislative process remains unwavering.” Manger said.
The fence had been a stark symbol of the fear many in the Capitol felt after the mob pushed its way past overwhelmed police officers, broke through windows and doors and ransacked the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win. It remained up for several months.
The U.S. Capitol Police Board had approved a plan to briefly reinstall the fence for a rally in September that was organized to support people who remained jailed in connection with the insurrection. Law enforcement officers and members of the media vastly outnumbered the protesters and only a few incidents were reported.
Manger said Capitol Police have also requested additional assistance from outside law enforcement agencies before Tuesday’s address, in addition to the request for help from the National Guard.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee has said his department is closely monitoring the shifting information and would be devoting additional policing in a rolling state of heightened alert over the next few weeks.
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