SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says security fencing that encircles the state Capitol building will remain in place through the end of the current legislative session on March 20 on the advice of state security officials including New Mexico State Police.
Egolf told news media in a video conference on Thursday that the fencing has had a “deterrent effect” and that he sees no reason to deviate from the advice of state security officials.
The fencing and road barricades were put in place in response to security concerns in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump in an effort overturn the results of the presidential election. Pro-Trump protests that day outside the Statehouse in Santa Fe were peaceful as lawmakers and staff evacuated the building.
The state Capitol is closed to the public as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, with hearings conducted largely online.
Republican legislators this week requested removal of the chain-link fences with concrete barriers, arguing that no threat was evident and that there shouldn’t be a perception that government leaders are afraid of the state’s citizens.
House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, said he was “disappointed we have to keep the fence up. It’s an eyesore that doesn’t speak well of our trust of New Mexicans.”
The state Capitol is closed to the public due to health restrictions implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Egolf said he is eager to return to traditional security measures at the Statehouse in 2022.