Washington DC locks down a week before inauguration – WGN TV Chicago

14January 2021

WASHINGTON (AP)– All through downtown Washington, the primary noise for a number of blocks was the beeping of forklifts unloading more fencing.

There were no cars and trucks or scooters and apparently no travelers Wednesday, simply the occasional jogger and several building and construction crews at work. The U.S. Capitol that proved such a soft target recently was visible only through lines of high, black fence.

2 blocks from the White House, a group of uniformed National Guard troops emerged from a tour bus and headed into a hotel as a state of lockdown came down on Washington that will last through the Jan. 20 inauguration.

“Clearly we remain in uncharted waters,” stated Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Recently's “violent insurrection” at the Capitol by advocates of outgoing President Donald Trump has “affected the method we are approaching working with our federal partners in preparing for the 59th inauguration,” Bowser stated Wednesday.

The FBI has warned that armed demonstrations by violent Trump fanswere being prepared in all 50 state capitals in addition to in Washington for the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

In between the pandemic and the security risk, Bowser is flat-out asking people not to come to the District of Columbia for the inauguration. And at Bowser's request, a National Special Security Event statement was gone up to Jan. 13, a distinction which she said “puts in location a totally different command and control structure” for security.

The NSSE status is regular for a presidential inauguration and other significant events like a global top or the Super Bowl. But it's unusual to start the lockdown up until now in advance of the event.

Squad cars sealed a substantial swath of downtown D.C. Wednesday, causing instant traffic snarls. Starting Wednesday, Bowser stated, anyone inside the inauguration boundary may be stopped and questioned. Beginning Friday, all parking lot in the downtown restricted zone will be sealed through the inauguration.

Bowser is likewise being pushed to deny lodging choices to possibly violent protesters. The regional Black Lives Matter affiliate and Shutdown DC provided a joint declaration Wednesday urging all downtown hotels to willingly close and pay their personnels. In addition to the threat of violence, the activist groups say Trump supporters are a threat to the health of hotel personnel for their basic rejection to use facemasks amidst the pandemic. Several downtown hotels, consisting of one which had actually become a preferred hangout of the militant Proud Boy faction, chose to prevent problem by closing recently.

“Closing hotels totally for these six nights is the only way to ensure the safety of hotel employees, neighbors, susceptible and unhoused residents, inbound administration officials, members of Congress, and our democracy,” the statement stated. “If hotels do not willingly close, we ask Mayor Bowser to extend today's emergency situation order and close all hotels in the city.”

On Wednesday, Airbnb announced it was cancelling all appointments in the Washington city location. Bowser stated she had actually remained in regular contact with Airbnb officials because recently, but did not specifically demand this step.

“We are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and understood hate groups that are attempting to travel and interfere with the Inauguration,” a company declaration said. “We are continuing our work to ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb neighborhood.”

On the ground, much of the most visible security will come in the kind of more than 15,000 National Guardsmen from multiple states, a few of them armed.

According to officials, the number of Guardsmen who will actually be bring weapons will be limited. Some Guard members nearer the Capitol will have long weapons, and others will have their sidearms.

It is most likely that those closer to the crowds or on fence lines won't be equipped, however those up closer to the structure may be. National Guard members run under rigorous rules of engagement on using force. But normally speaking, troops can utilize deadly force to protect the lives of others and themselves.

Authorities also said that while 15,000 Guard members have been activated, more may be called. D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee estimated Wednesday that more than 20,000 National Guardsmen would be active in the District of Columbia on Inauguration Day.

Officials are continuing to evaluate requests from police, and some believe several thousand more might be generated. Defense and military authorities have actually been calling governors and adjutants basic to ask if they may have people they could send, if requested.

Up until now, officials said state leaders have actually stated that protecting their own capitols will be their top concern, however they still have some Guard members they will be able to send, if required.

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