- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2021

An almost palpable tension has gripped downtown Washington, where thousands of helmeted National Guard troops are patrolling some areas in the aftermath of the deadly assault last week on the U.S. Capitol.

The Washington Monument is closed through Jan. 24, and roads, parking and restrooms around the National Mall may close “if conditions warrant, to protect public safety and park resources,” the National Park Service said Monday.

Non-scalable fences have been erected around the Capitol and the Supreme Court, and nearby businesses that boarded up before the riot have left the wooden planks in place to prepare for more unrest.

Meanwhile, the FBI has issued bulletins warning of plans for armed protests in Washington and at state capitals across the country.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is calling on federal authorities to expedite security for the inauguration through Jan. 24 and is urging people not to come to the nation’s capital to witness the presidential inauguration of Joseph R. Biden.

“We believe strongly that the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20 will require a very different approach than previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection,” Miss Bowser said in a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

The mayor asked that the period of security for the inauguration be extended from Monday through Jan. 24, that Homeland Security coordinate efforts with other federal agencies and that her office be included in security planning.

Hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the Capitol on Wednesday as Congress was certifying the results of the presidential election. The building was placed on lockdown, and lawmakers, staffers and reporters were evacuated or hid as a mob broke windows, battered barriers and ransacked offices.

One protester was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer, and another officer was bludgeoned to death. Three other demonstrators died of medical issues. Pipe bombs were discovered at the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees.

At least 6,200 National Guard troops from the District and six nearby states were activated to help quell the uprising, and they now are patrolling city streets in ballistic helmets as a precaution in the wake of the beating death of the Capitol Police officer, the Army said.

At least 10,000 troops will be deployed in the District by Saturday, and as many as 15,000 have been requested “to support security, logistics, liaison and communications missions” in Washington, said Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The troops will bring their weapons into the city, but any decision about carrying them will be made after consulting with law enforcement officials, the general said.

“Ideally, they’ll never need [the weapons], but if they do, we want to know they’re close by and readily accessible if necessary, based on the mission,” Gen. Hokanson told reporters at the Pentagon. “We want our individuals to have the right to self-defense.”

Washington is not alone in implementing pre-inauguration security plans. National Guard units, SWAT teams and extra police officers were deployed to state capitols across the country Monday as several legislatures convened.

An internal FBI bulletin warned that, as of Sunday, nationwide protests may start this weekend and extend through the inauguration on Jan. 20, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of extremist groups, the officials said. ABC first reported the bulletin.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity.

Mike Ricci, communications director for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, tweeted: “The Maryland State Police is aware of on-line information regarding the possibility of armed demonstrations in state capitals on January 17th. We remain in constant contact with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners regarding any potential events.”

In the District, Miss Bowser said during a press conference that she is asking federal authorities to extend the National Special Security Event period through Jan. 24, to provide her office with a daily intelligence and threat brief, and to collaborate on a security and federal force deployment plan.

The mayor said she also has asked President Trump to issue a pre-emergency declaration ahead of the inauguration. A similar declaration was issued in 2009 for the inauguration of President Obama because as many as 1 million people were anticipated to attend.

What’s more, the mayor sent a letter asking Interior Secretary David L. Bernhardt to cancel and reject public gathering permits in the District throughout the National Special Security Event.

She said she has “repeatedly” made this request since June because of the COVID-19 pandemic “and this week demonstrated the National Park Service’s willingness to approve last-minute permits and major adjustments.”

Additionally, Miss Bowser said, a ban on indoor dining will “likely” be extended through Jan. 24.

The pandemic restriction began Dec. 23 and was supposed to end Friday, but the mayor said she is considering an extension in light of the insurrection of the Capitol. A final decision about the ban will probably be announced Tuesday, she said.

• Mike Glenn contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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