OLYMPIA — The security fencing around buildings on Washington state’s Capitol campus was removed Tuesday, four months after the barriers went up during national unrest tied to the presidential election.
The enhanced security measures have been in place since January. A crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump breached the gates to the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia on Jan. 6, the same day a pro-Trump mob stormed the nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“I’m pleased to announce that we’re removing the temporary construction fencing on West Campus,” stated Department of Enterprise Services Director Chris Liu. “It was an important measure to protect free speech rights, the democratic process and government operations. We are hopeful that political temperatures will continue to cool and that threat levels or illegal activity will not necessitate such security measures again.”
Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Jan. 8 he had activated the Washington State National Guard to be in Olympia with State Patrol and local law enforcement ahead of the first day of the state’s 2021 legislative session Jan. 11. Groups had announced, then publicly canceled protest plans that included entering the Legislative Building, which has been closed to the public due to COVID-19 precautions.
Calls to remove the fence from Republican state lawmakers were unheeded during the 105-day legislative session that ended April 25. Democratic leaders in the legislature said they defer to security experts on that call, such as State Patrol. In mid-March, the restricted area reopened to pedestrian access from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.