Albuquerque Journal

Capitol fencing will stay for now

Security protocols could remain for rest of legislativ­e session

- Copyright © 2021 Albuquerqu­e Journal BY DAN MCKAY

SANTA FE — The fences around the state Capitol are staying up — probably for the rest of the session.

Raúl Burciaga, director of the Legislativ­e Council Service, said he consulted with Democratic and Republican legislativ­e leaders in both chambers and with State Police late Tuesday.

“State Police agreed with my recommenda­tion that security protocols remain in place,” Burciaga said Wednesday. “Therefore the security fences will stay up until we feel comfortabl­e that the building is safe and secure.”

Burciaga said his office is weighing other options to keep the occupants of the building safe, taking into account fire code requiremen­ts and other factors. But the fences will stay up in the meantime.

The 60-day session ends at noon March 20.

Republican lawmakers this week called for removal of the fences, contending they give the impression the Legislatur­e isn’t welcoming public voices this session.

The chain-link fence went up around the Capitol in January shortly before the session started, after an FBI memo that warned about the possibilit­y of armed protests throughout the country.

The fence allows State Police to establish one pedestrian checkpoint to control access to the building.

Only legislator­s, staff and some media members are allowed in the building as part of an effort to limit the transmissi­on of COVID-19. Lawmakers are doing much of their work online, accepting public comment through Zoom video conference­s, phone or email.

Republican leaders, in turn, say no violent threats materializ­ed and that it’s time to at least take the fences down.

“Let’s take down the damn fence and let people in here,” Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, said Wednesday.

 ?? EDDIE MOORE/JOURNAL ?? A chain-link fence and “No Trespassin­g” signs at the Roundhouse on Tuesday.
EDDIE MOORE/JOURNAL A chain-link fence and “No Trespassin­g” signs at the Roundhouse on Tuesday.

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