U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. and U.S. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., are leading an effort to prohibit the federal government from installing permanent security fences and walls around the U.S. Capitol.
The two Democrats are working with U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, on the No Fences Act. All three deserve high praise and support.
There has been an unprecedented military and security build up in Washington after the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6.
Fences topped with barbed wire and razor wire were installed around the Capitol and other federal buildings in D.C. Thousands of armed troops and police were dispatched to Washington in the aftermath of Jan. 6 and President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Many of those troops remain in the city — when they should be home.
The fencing and troops gave Washington the look of Kabul or East Berlin. We are glad to see some of the post-Jan. 6 fencing has come down around the Capitol.
The bill pushed by Van Hollen and Norton to ban permanent fences and walls around the U.S. Capitol deserves our strong support.
The U.S. Capitol is about our democracy. It is one of the symbols of our republic, and the lawmakers inside work for us. The images of razor wire fences and armed troops encircling Congress is counter to American ideals and democracy. They are something out of George Orwell’s “1984” and not the vision we all have for our country.
Van Hollen, Norton and Blunt recognize that. We hope other lawmakers are that aware also.
Since 9/11, it has often been easy for the federal government to throw money, new layers of bureaucrats and more police at security concerns. That money is often focused on fighting the last war and incident rather than what is on the horizon.
During COVID, we have seen civil liberties across the globe — and in some instances in the U.S. — seriously eroded in the name of public health but often at the behest of overzealous police and politicians.
Washington and the Capitol should be beacons of democracy and freedom, not some kind of militarized fortress.
The path we take on fences and walls around the Capitol will also say a lot on the broader paths we are taking when it comes to our liberties and freedoms. Let’s choose the path that doesn’t entail armed troops and razor wire around the people’s house.