As House lawmakers held a historic impeachment vote on Wednesday, they did so not with members of the general public in the seeing galleries above but instead with National Guard soldiers patrolling the neighboring corridors of the Capitol.
The scene– which came simply one week after hundreds of rioters attacked the building in a bid to maintain Donald Trump’s hold on the presidency– for lots of was a jarring militarization of the center of American democracy.
However, lawmakers stated, it was also a required safety measure provided the previous violence and ongoing dangers to the Capitol complex.
“The attack on the Capitol was a violent insurrection that led to the spilling of American blood,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., stated in action to reporters’ concerns about the military security existence. “Officers were brutally beaten. The attackers wished to assassinate Nancy Pelosi, hang Mike Pence, and hound sitting members of Congress.
In years past, these parts of the Capitol are typically filled with excited school children and constituents.
Now, they’re protected by the National Guard to keep our beacon of democracy safe from the President’s violent mob. https://t.co/OpqQsuQ8XI
— Tom Suozzi (@RepTomSuozzi) January 13, 2021
“That’s insurrection. That’s sedition. That’s lawlessness. That’s fear. It needs to not and will not be endured. And that’s why extraordinary security steps have been taken.”
Five individuals passed away in the Jan. 6 assault, consisting of Capitol Hill police officer Brian Sicknick, a former New Jersey Air National Guard member who was injured and killed by rioters.
Pentagon and White House authorities received considerable criticism after the attack for the slow release of Guard troops to react to the violence, which followed a large pro-Trump rally on the National Mall.
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I thank the National Guard servicemembers from Maryland & surrounding states for concerning the Capitol school to sign up with the Capitol Police in protecting Members of Congress, personnel, journalism, and all who work here on behalf of the American people. We are grateful for their service. pic.twitter.com/G0uhuY1riy
— Steny (Use a Mask) Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) January 12, 2021
Today, in preparation of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, countless Guard members were activated to offer security support around Washington, D.C. Police officials sped up that operate in current days, after the announcement of a second impeachment vote versus Trump (this time for inciting the Jan. 6 violence) and following brand-new hazards against the members of Congress.
Air National Guard Elder Master Sgt. Craig Clapper, spokesman for the District of Columbia National Guard, stated that by Wednesday morning, about 6,600 guardsmen were stationed inside or nearby Congressional structures.
Thank you to the members of the Guard working around the clock to safeguard the Capitol. Resting where simply days ago rioters were attacking cops. pic.twitter.com/xHYrQxIPZd
— Rep. Peter Welch (@PeterWelch) January 13, 2021
Pictures distributed throughout social media on Wednesday of uniformed members stationed beside stately statutes and sleeping on marble floors between tasks. Cafeterias usually packed with staffers in fits rather boasted lines of soldiers in uniform.
The Capitol Visitors Center, typically packed with travelers, worked as a circulation point for weapons and riot guards.
These images are surreal.
Thank you to the National Guard members who have actually originated from Virginia and across the area to assist keep us safe. pic.twitter.com/nt2zHeblUg
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) January 13, 2021
“It’s tough to think we have actually come to this,” Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., composed on Twitter. “I’m grateful for the National Guard keeping our democracy and all those who operate in the Capitol safe on this solemn day.”
During one moment of rest, Republican Florida Rep. Brian Mast– an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan– offered a short trip and history lesson of the Capitol rotunda to a group of about 30 guardsmen.
The number of Guard workers in Washington, D.C. is anticipated to increase to 15,000 by the start of next week. That puts more than three times as lots of soldiers in America’s capital than in Afghanistan and Iraq integrated.
About Leo Shane III
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. considering that 2004, concentrating on military workers and veterans policies. His work has earned many honors, consisting of a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Management in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.