United States Capitol building– the top legislative arena of the country– came under attack nearly a year ago on January 6. Violent protests broke outside the complex in Washington DC, which shortly turned into an insurrection aimed at disrupting the vote certification of the 2020 Presidential polls.
Since the violence broke out, multiple incidents have happened on Capitol Hill through 2021 that have hinted at a security deficit. In April last year, Noah Green, an Indiana man who was armed with a knife, rammed his car into the barricading around the Capitol complex. The incident resulted in the death of US Capitol Police officer William Billy Evans.
Such events have boiled down to one question: Is the US Capitol safe now?
When the dust settled after the January 6 attacks, the Capitol complex seemed to have gotten a makeover. The premises were surrounded by eight-foot-high fencing, yellow caution tape, concrete barriers were laid out and National Guard troops were visible on every corner.
According to reports from Washington Post, the Capitol Police force has made progress in boosting security in Washington DC since July 2021, when J. Thomas Manger— the former police chief of Montgomery County and of Fairfax County– took over the leadership role.
The Capitol Police has reportedly enhanced engagement with the public, has become less secretive and holds frequent pressers.
“We are aware of several events that are planned for Thursday, but most are not of much concern to us,” Manger said in a statement.
In September 2021, a group called ‘Look Ahead America’ organised a demonstration outside the US Capitol — which was called ‘Justice for J6’— in support of those who have been arrested with links to the storming but were in law enforcement custody with any charges. In preparation for the rally, Manger took steps to boost security. The department is also planning on hiring a new deputy chief to take on the role of intelligence.
These included installing temporary perimeter facing and keeping the National Guard on standby. While emphasising that the force does not “want to take any chances“, he added, “Our mission tomorrow is our mission every day, and that is to protect everyone’s rights to free speech and to allow them to lawfully demonstrate.”
“January 6 exposed critical deficiencies with operational planning, intelligence, staffing and equipment,” Manger said in testimony. “I recognize those issues have to be addressed, and that is what we are doing”, according to reports from Associated Press.
The accountability for those linked to Capitol riots has also been steadily increasing the incident. According to reports from Insider, a total of 737 have been charged in relation to the storming across the United States.
Moreover, the January 6 committee— set up by the House of Representatives– has been probing the insurrection and has gathered “evidence” of people executives being involved in the incident.