Congressional security officials abandoned plans late Tuesday to reconstruct fencing around the Capitol that had been approved hours earlier in preparation for potential unrest following the verdict of the high-profile trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Capitol Hill Police officials told congressional lawmakers and staffers Tuesday afternoon they were “closely monitoring reports for potential First Amendment activities in response to the verdict in the Derek Chauvin case” and had “decided to re-install portions of the outer perimeter fence,” CNN reported.
After Chauvin was convicted of the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Capitol Police spokesman announced the fencing plans had been nixed.
“USCP is no longer planning to go ahead with reinstalling some of the outer perimeter fencing,” a spokesman said in a statement, according to Politico.
A separate source told CNN the plans were thrown out after Chauvin was convicted.
“We’ll reassess tomorrow based on overnight developments. If all is quiet I suspect we’ll turn this off altogether,” the source said.
The hesitation about rebuilding the security fence taken down only weeks ago also comes in the wake of the Jan. 6 incursion of the Capitol and the security failures of that day.
Many lawmakers have bumped up their own spending on personal security in response.
Capitol Police were not the only ones preparing for potential unrest after the trial, but they did not request additional security measures until Monday.
“The intent was to be ready when the verdict came,” a source familiar with the plans told CNN.
“We didn’t need it last week. The violence only started last week.”
The Capitol Police Board approved the request early Tuesday, according to multiple unnamed CNN sources, but there were no known threats to the Capitol at the time.
“I’ve seen no reporting about violence or civil disturbances targeting any specific federal building. This is just an extension of the current standoff that our current fence provides further back,” a source told CNN.
The source said there had been “vandalism at Columbus Circle the other night. That’s very close to some of the Senate office buildings.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee overseeing Capitol security measures, expressed his frustration that he wasn’t part of the fencing plan discussions, Politico reported.
“Well apparently the Capitol Police and the police Board have no interest in sharing any of these discussions with the oversight committee,” the Missouri senator said.
“I’m certainly not aware of the particular threat to the Capitol, nor do I think that every time there’s some incident somewhere in the country that could possibly create a public response that we should fence off the United States Capitol.”
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