D.C.

March on Washington: Holmes Norton 'outraged' by long lines, wait times

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is outraged after visitors to the March on Washington Wednesday had to wait in line for hours. The large crowd and the extra security made for a long morning for thousands of visitors to D.C.

“Thousands upon thousands stuck in a massive logjam at a Secret Service security checkpoint," said Holmes Norton. "There was only one such point for the general public wanting to witness history. Instead, so many missed it because the one tent had only nine security stations. That meant wait times of 2+ hours. Many said they just left."

Holmes Norton said the long lines and wait times left visitors, many of them elderly, frustrated and sick from the heat. D.C. Fire and EMS had to treat about 96 people and some even had to be hospitalized. 

The congresswoman sent a letter Wednesday to the director of the Secret Service to express her outrage at what she called a massive failure. It read, in part:

"The Secret Service was confronted with an unusual challenge in the need for heightened security yesterday because three presidents attended and spoke at the event. However, you are the most experienced in the country in the work of managing presidential inaugurations and other events that draw crowds much larger than yesterday’s March, using advanced planning and coordination... There is no doubt that the many failures could have been prevented. Security personnel belatedly added magnetometers and hand-held metal detector wands to speed up the long delays, showing that with routine, advanced planning, the misery your agency caused could have been avoided."

The Secret Service released the following statement, in part, Wednesday:

"... During this event every effort was made to adapt with resources and personnel to accommodate the surge in attendees that arrived after 11 o’clock for security screening. Throughout the entire event, we continued to process people to make sure that everyone that wanted to attend the event was able to attend – no one was denied access to the event..."

The Secret Service says it will work with the National Park Service to identify areas for improvement.  

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