My colleague Emily Cochrane, who was present during last week’s riot, encountered a shocking scene when she arrived at work this morning: the U.S. Capitol, filled with troops. She told me about what she saw.
Since last Wednesday, they have slowly been intensifying security. Fencing has gone up around the Capitol. This morning, the closer you got to the building, the more it seemed as if things had changed overnight. It seemed as if the National Guard presence had doubled.
As I went through security on the House side of the Capitol — a floor below where lawmakers themselves began crossing through magnetometers last night — the first sight I had was of members of the National Guard asleep on the marble floors, some curled around the statues, others tucked behind them. It was surreal.
Someone was saying, “All right, guys — time to get up, time to get up.” Their rifles were laid on the ground and against the wall, some of them rested on top of their bodies as they slept. There was a line of two dozen National Guard members waiting to get breakfast at a self-serve station. In the Capitol Visitor Center, they were sprawled everywhere. This was as close to a militarized Capitol as I could have ever imagined.
Last Wednesday, I was in the House chamber, and heard the rioters trying to get in. I saw guns drawn. I knew there was a breach. But it has only really been in the aftermath, when you step back and see the photos from across the building, that it really hits home how much worse it could have been. It underscored how dangerous last Wednesday was and how dangerous things could still become. They are preparing for the possibility that something might happen again.
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