Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

Pall of attack continues to hover over capital city

September 16, 2001

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— Residents sought prayer and healing, even as the city's most enduring symbols of freedom were closed to the public and an expanded security zone surrounded the White House.

No Capitol Hill visits. No White House tours. Emergency measures by federal and local police kept tourists and residents in limbo.

Several streets leading to city landmarks were blocked Friday by District of Columbia police and their federal counterparts. Humvees remained stationed on various street corners.

As night fell in the district, though, the White House security zone shrank back to its normal perimeter. The military police who were patrolling Washington streets began to disappear as well.

Decisions about public access will be day-to-day.

"We're asking the public to remain patient," said Sgt. Rob McLean of the U.S. Park Police, which oversees the National Mall.

Maria Ramos, 25, of Washington, organized a candlelight vigil in a largely immigrant neighborhood several blocks north of the White House. "People are scared. People are in crisis mode," she said. "This feeling of security has been shattered."

As authorities tried to close in on the perpetrators of Tuesday's deadly terror attacks, residents sought a way to lift the emotional cloud. Many turned to the prayer service at Washington National Cathedral.

Priscilla Lewis, 26, of Rockville, Md., waited on the street outside the service.

"I really wanted to be at a church to support my president and my country," she said, holding a flag and a Bible.

Members of Congress joined President Bush and other former presidents at the service. Security was tight.

Said Terrance W. Gainer, Washington's deputy police chief: "We have to be on guard and vigilant about the potential for further terrorist activities."

Also inside the White House's security zone were the collections of the Corcoran Gallery, the capital's oldest art museum. It was open to the public Saturday.

But only pedestrians with government IDs were allowed into Lafayette Park, which is across Pennsylvania Avenue from the executive mansion.

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