Housing Complex

Senate Sergeant at Arms: Filming and Photography Will be A-Okay at Union Square

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.

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  • http://nbcwashington.com Tom Sherwood

    I've worried since 1996 (Oklahoma City bombing & shutdown of 1600 Pa Ave) about the loss of access and the endless encroaching of almost mindless "security theater" or our streets.

    That said, Terry Gainer has been a man of his word. Capitol Police used to routinely harass TV crews. He wrote a clear, one page guide to what could and couldn't be done. It was very reasonable and helpful.

    We live in a free society, by definition a more dangerous one than living behind "secure" barriers and bollards. As old Ben Franklin is credited with saying, those who would give up freedom for security deserve neither.

  • Peggy

    Yea! I hope that the site will be available for the photographers indefinitely. But are there any restrictions as to time, space, etc or rental fees/cost?

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