Barricades come down on US Capitol as threat level lowered

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By Daniel Bellamy  with AP, AFP
Barricades come down on US Capitol as threat level lowered
Copyright  Andrew Harnik/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

More than six months after the US capitol building was stormed and the barricades are coming down.

New security assessments have lowered the threat level, and the giant fence that was erected shortly after January 6th was to be removed on Saturday.

Americans and the world were astonished when right-wing extremists who supported President Trump managed to force their way into the Congressional building in January.

A new House committee investigating the insurrection is expected to hold its first public hearing with police officers who responded to the attack and custodial staff who cleaned up afterward.

That's according to Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the new select panel.

He said on Friday the committee hopes to "set the tone" of the investigation by hearing from those first responders, many of whom were brutally beaten and verbally assaulted by former President Donald Trump's supporters as they broke into the Capitol.

Thompson hasn't said whether the panel will call Trump to testify, but did say, "I don't think anyone is off limits."

The FBI has said that over 70 people believed to have taken part have links to extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and many also follow the conspiracy theories of QAnon.

Thousands of National Guard troops were stationed there following the attack, and a wide security boundary complete with razor wire turned the Capitol into a fortress for months.

An outer perimeter was dismantled in March, but the fencing, Capitol Hill traffic detours and a ban on visitors have irritated lawmakers from both parties.