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If you spent last week in the wilderness with no access to the internet or cable news, and stepped into the Capitol building on Monday, you might not think things were all that different, maybe just a little emptier than usual.
When I visited the complex that afternoon, the ornate tiled floors gleamed, the familiar portraits of politicians past glared down from the walls, the Capitol rotunda glowed in all its intended glory.
Sporting my press badge, which gives me broad access to the Capitol, I breezed through security and made my way through the familiar labyrinth of hallways and tunnels unimpeded, like I would on any other day of reporting.
But of course, there were eerie hints that something was amiss.
Several windows in the normally immaculate Senate were boarded up with plywood, their shutters smashed while dirty handprints smudged the adjacent walls. A ribbon of forgotten police tape fluttered from the door of the Senate Parliamentarian’s office. A large crack blistered a window that normally provides a lovely view of the Library of Congress. And a pile of emergency hood wrappers lay discarded just outside the Senate gallery.
Also, the National Guard was everywhere.
Last Wednesday, violent supporters of President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol, smashing through windows and forcing their way inside the hallowed building in a failed attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying the electoral college results and making Joe Biden’s victory official. They made their way up to the House and Senate chambers — in the latter case, just seconds after lawmakers had been evacuated — and left a trail of destruction in their wake. The Capitol’s workers, joined by at least one congressman, toiled through the night to clean up after them.
After watching the horrors unfold on television and social media last week, I wanted to see how much had changed about entering the Capitol. On Monday, I paid a visit and learned how much had — and hadn’t – changed. Here’s what I saw.
A tall, black fence with concrete barriers at the base now surrounds the entire Capitol grounds, with only a couple entrance points. Normally, the grounds are open to the public.
My press badge allowed me to walk into one of the few entry points in the fence, which was guarded by Capitol police. Once I got through that fence, everything was strangely normal.
I entered the Capitol through the same side door on the House side I often take, and was greeted by just a couple of Capitol police officers, which is often the case. I sent my backpack through the usual X-ray machine and walked through the usual metal detector, and went on my way.
I’d expected to face far more security, increased checks, and restrictions on my movements, but Capitol police and a House staffer told me I could move about as normal.
The damage was more visible on the Senate side of the Capitol. While most of the Senate looked totally normal, there were telltale signs of a riot. Here are a …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Politics