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It took them three weeks, but those responsible for guarding the Capitol Complex have finally clarified that their annexation of Union Square from the National Park Service at the tail end of last year will not mean the feared end of commercial filmmaking and photography at Grant Memorial. Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer emails:
Our intention is to continue the practice of commercial photography, commercial film making and the use of tripods on the area recently acquired by the Architect of the Capitol and by statute the security responsibility of the Police Board. We are working with the appropriators leaders on the Hill to make that a fact. …
Two weeks ago, the Capitol Police Board, that is the Senate and House Sergeant at Arms, the Architect of the Capitol and the Chief of Police, met and agreed to continue for at least the next 90 days the existing policies and practices with respect to commercial photography, commercial filmmaking, and the use of tripods at Union Square. During that time, the Senate and House Sergeants at Arms will be consulting with our respective leaders to work toward making these practices permanent under the new jurisdictional arrangement. The initial response to our recommendation has been very positive.
Our focus is, and always will be, the security of the United States Capitol and the people who work and visit here. However, I do not believe our security needs necessarily conflict with the goal of keeping Union Square open and accessible. We encourage visitors to come to the Capitol, we welcome them to Union Square, and we look forward to many, many more school groups leaving Washington, DC, with a special souvenir: a “class photo” with the Capitol Dome in the background.
Well, that should come as a relief to those whose livelihoods depended on access to the site, as well as the kids who are super excited to line up and smile for the cameras in front of the nation’s seat of government.