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U.S. Capitol fencing is reinstalled ahead of trucker protests

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WASHINGTON >> Temporary fencing is being reinstalled around the U.S. Capitol as federal security officials brace for protesting truckers to reach the Washington area, possibly to coincide with President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

The measure adds to security preparations including the deployment of 400 National Guard members to help local police at key traffic arteries and checkpoints. Guard personnel won’t be issued firearms for that role.

Federal agencies have been monitoring the movements of several trucker groups making their way toward the capital region, according to an official familiar with the planning. There’s concern that Washington could face disruptions similar to those that tied up Ottawa, Canada’s capital, over COVID-19 vaccine requirements and other public health measures related to the pandemic.

At least four groups of truckers appear headed to Washington, including one originating from California, and several smaller ones from the East Coast, according to the official. The truck numbers are in flux and the timing of the arrivals can’t be determined with any certainty, the official said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and in conjunction with the United States Secret Service, a plan has been approved to put up the inner-perimeter fence around the Capitol building for the State of the Union Address,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said today in a statement.

The force is working with other federal, state and local law enforcement partners on a security plan “to prevent any disruption” to the work of Congress, he said.

The fencing will be similar to that erected last year after the Jan. 6 insurrection by supporters of former President Donald Trump, which stayed up for months.

Manger didn’t provide a timeline for the expected arrival of any trucker convoys. He cast the security moves as tied to the State of the Union Address and “the possibility of demonstrations in the next couple of weeks.”

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