The capital of the United States, Washington DC, had been a bustling city in the month of January after every four years. Inauguration of presidents-elect drew people into the metropolis in thousands to celebrate victory of their candidate. Although the event is the same, but the year 2021 sees a different city – a fortress with 25,000 armed to the teeth National Guard troops on razor-wired roads.
President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday will take place in a city that can be called a “ghost town.”
Previous inaugurations drew over a million spectators to the National Mall – closed to public now due to threats of violence — to watch the ceremony from giant television screens and the new president walking from Capitol to the White House.
The coronavirus pandemic had forced cancellation of inaugural balls. And empty National Mall will turn the mood of the nation somber on January 20.
Presidential inaugurations are always high-security events. But, this year, security level is unprecedented.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has said they have been forced to ramp up security fearing more Capitol-like attacks from “so-called patriots who would attempt to overthrow their government and kill police officers.”
“We don’t want to see fences. We definitely don’t want to see armed troops on our streets. But we do have to take a different posture,” he said during a TV show.
REHEARSAL STOPPED: The Capitol complex was temporarily locked down during a rehearsal for inauguration after a fire broke out in a homeless encampment about a kilometer and a half away. The plume of smoke caused panic among security officials.
The false alarm briefly interrupted the rehearsal. And when it resumed, a helicopter patrolled the skies.
Firefighters put out the blaze quickly.
Meanwhile, worried about a potential insider attack or other threat from service members, the FBI had to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops coming into the area.