In an unusual action, the government locked down the city ahead of next week's inauguration, but did not stop there. Then came the 25,000 plus national guard soldiers, and the equipment. Then the city set up checkpoints, not to be confused for the ones the Guard set up and the ones the Federal law enforcement agencies have set up. Layer upon layer upon layer and all we can ask is, is'nt this a little extreme? Trump had more death threats on him and it was just another normal inauguration - this feels different.
Normal security precautions for an inauguration require blocking off streets near several locations a couple of days beforehand. This year, neighborhoods near the White House, Capitol Hill, and in between the two famous buildings have transitioned into fenced-in city blocks where residents cannot drive out of apartment building garages or even walk outside without suspecting to be enquired by the police.
While the pandemic has kept many at home instead of heading into the office for work, streets downtown lay bare by Thursday, gloomily still. Some Washingtonians loaded up on groceries as if it was the onset of the coronavirus.
The preparations come after law enforcement announced that it knows of four plots to attack the Capitol ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's swearing-in ceremony.
Washington is charged with law enforcement and soldiers. More than 20,000 National Guard personnel from the District of Columbia and neighboring states are in town to guard the Capitol and other federal buildings from mobs that could form outside them in the days leading up to Wednesday. The troops have advanced pouring in all week from as far away as Minnesota and Illinois.
The Metropolitan Police Department called in law enforcement from across the country to assist. Up to 4,000 federal officers from the U.S. Marshals Service will be deputized and on the streets. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is also “making plans to send specially trained officers” into town, according to a spokesman.
The Secret Service supervises security for the inauguration.
The Department of Homeland Security moved its lockdown of Washington up by nearly a week at the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser, which permitted inaugural security forces to prepare miles of barricades across town early. Dump trucks, buses, and other large vehicles were parked on dozens of paths to block attacks from vehicles.
Acting DHS Secretary Pete Gaynor told department officials that the agency confirmed Bowser's request to initiate security preparations Wednesday, nearly a week earlier than planned. Gaynor is the head of Federal Emergency Management Agency and recently took over DHS following acting Secretary Chad Wolf’s resignation on Monday.
The National Mall, where the public usually meets to watch the swearing-in of a new president, will be off-limits to locals and visitors, the National Park Service announced Thursday. The National Mall includes the Washington Monument and extends nearly a mile and a half east to the back of the Capitol, where the inauguration takes place.
Most Smithsonian museums are located on the National Mall and were closed in late 2020 due to the growing number of coronavirus numbers regionally. Indoor feasts were prohibited in late December and have since been extended through the inauguration, forcing people to eat outside, which many are likely to abandon given potentially hazardous conditions outside.