The Politics of Fencing Federal Buildings in America
I’ve got a bone to pick.
Remember the fence that surrounded the U.S. Capitol after January 6? Those barricades that served both as a physical barrier and a heightened public message about the dangers of right-wing groups and Donald Trump supporters?
Such gated steel barriers are dramatic visuals for sure, purposely meant to seer into the public conscience that conservatives are bands of violent, seditious thugs.
On no less than ten occasions since January 6, 2021, the Secret Service and Capitol Police have opted to erect fencing around the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and the Supreme Court.
An impressive list, and the government’s message is screaming: “Watch out for the right-wing supporters; they’re a clear and present danger!”
If even there’s a perceived whiff of righteous indignation from the right, our government is ready to lay down the steel and call out the National Guard.
Now, let’s pivot westward toward liberal cities where crime and drug use are running rampant and threatening federal workers. There, you’ll find a different story.
The Nancy Pelosi Federal Building, a $144 million taxpayer-funded skyscraper in San Francisco, is surrounded by an area described as a “haven for open-air drug use and often violent criminals.”
Yet, when the federal government instructed the building’s workers to stay home “for the foreseeable future” due to security threats, where were the protective fencing and armed guards to protect these workers and building?
The Pelosi building is next to San Francisco’s Tenderloin District and is known for such skyrocketing criminal activity as robberies, assaults, burglaries, homicides, and rape.
Critics say the city is so “soft-of-crime” that criminals operate without fear of getting caught, much less worrying about punitive consequences.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly 100 retailers in downtown San Francisco have closed shop due to rampant crime, drug use, homelessness, and other dangerous behavior.
“Out of 203 retailers open in 2019 in the city’s Union Square area, just 107 are still operating, a drop of 47 percent in just a few pandemic-ravaged years,” reports the Daily Mail.
Federal workers, shop owners, and customers have every reason to fear for their safety in San Francisco.
The Federal Protective Service (FPS) is responsible for safeguarding the Pelosi building and over 950,000 other federal facilities. It has the ability and authority to erect protective fencing around such structures.
Yet, in a world where fencing seems to shoot up overnight around the Capitol at the slightest hint of right-wing rumblings, the response in San Francisco is simply non-existent.
In fact, the “stay at home” order didn’t even come from the FPS, whose sole duty is protecting federal workers. It came from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
How can a “stay at home” order to protect federal workers from violent criminal gangs now be twisted into a medical decision made by health professionals, and not a security problem for law enforcement?
Why keep a law enforcement agency out of the equation? The answer is obvious. It’s a political decision.
The threat of violence in the Golden Gate City isn’t from people wearing MAGA hats but from those with needles in their arms, hooded gangs, and out-of-control youth.
A building that cost taxpayers a whopping $144 million is effectively shut down because the surrounding area is too politically sensitive to take concrete, firm action. Instead of implementing measures to protect these workers, the FPS throws up its hands and relies on health workers to recommend security precautions.
How can this glaring disparity be justified?
Is it because erecting a fence might bring national embarrassment to certain lawmakers and prosecutors and draw attention to their failed left-wing policies and declining safety conditions?
Or is it because such a move might push for more stringent crime and drug enforcement policies?
Or is it because the optic of fences and National Guard units should only be used when painting patriotic Americans as the nation’s greatest threat?
Likely, all three.
But to those vulnerable federal workers in the Tenderloin District, I say this:
If the medical field is now in charge of protecting you from rapists, murderers, and thieving bandits, maybe the Federal Protective Services can at least protect your Door Dash delivery driver to safely complete your “stay at home” food service order.