New, higher fencing was installed outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night after the third day of protests over abortion rights. The 8-foot fence completely encircles the Supreme Court building.
Pro- and anti-abortion rights protesters first flocked to the high court Monday night, spurred by a leaked draft opinion that suggested Supreme Court justices are prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, the decision that affirmed the right to an abortion nationwide.
Protesters returned Tuesday and Wednesday, and more demonstrations are expected in the coming weeks.
The plaza, once available to demonstrators, is now blocked off by the fence. Other security measures include dump trucks and trash trucks blocking streets, and extra officers positioned nearby.
Capitol Police say they are preparing for any potential demonstrations.
So far, protests have been peaceful. Law enforcement installed bike rack-style fencing to separate pro- and anti-abortion rights protesters earlier this week.
Police haven’t yet released information on the fence. It’s unclear how long it will stay up or if law enforcement has identified a specific threat.
The fence is similar to the one installed after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. That fence prohibited access to the U.S. Capitol grounds, which many District residents opposed.
A large police presence remains outside our nation’s highest court as demonstrators continue to make their voices heard. Since Monday night when the news broke, the crowds have varied in size from thousands of people filling the street to a few dozen.
On Thursday, abortion rights advocates announced plans are under way for a massive rally here and in other cities across the country on Saturday, May 14 as part of what organizers are calling a summer of rage.
"May 14 is going to be a day of action all across the country," said Rachel O'Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women's March. "What we do know is there is an incredible amount of anger and passion around this topic for folks who are just not going stand for our rights to be rolled back."
Carmona believes the fencing sends a clear message to demonstrators.
"They erect gates and fences so that we can't exercise our free speech amendment," she said. "And so if this is really about constitutional rights, if this is really about the things that they say it's about, then why do they engage in authoritarianism and tactics that chill free speech?"
Folks told News4 that the fence is a sad commentary on the state of the country.
“I think this represents the fault lines that we see in our country. It’s tragic that we can’t come together and have differing points of view peacefully,” said one D.C. resident.
Details on the rally being planned were not immediately available. The group is in the process of submitting applications for permits from the National Park Service.
New4 has reached out to both the U.S. Capitol Police and a U.S. Supreme Court spokesperson about the fencing, but we have not heard back.