Security Increased as Washington Mayor Discourages People from Attending Inauguration
By VOA News January 11, 2021
Up to 15,000 National Guard members will assist security efforts for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration this month, the National Guard chief announced Monday after multiple calls for increased security.
"To date, our troops have been requested to support security, logistics, liaison, and communication missions," Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in a statement.
The National Guard has a long history of helping to secure U.S. presidential inaugurations, but, by contrast, only about 8,000 National Guard members were present during President Donald Trump's inauguration in 2016.
The announcement comes amid warnings of possible violence in the days leading up to the inauguration, following the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters last week.
The FBI sent a memo to police departments across the country Monday, warning that armed protests have been planned in Washington, as well as all 50 state capitols.
The U.S. National Park Service announced Monday it will close the Washington Monument from January 11 until after the inauguration, citing threats of violence.
"Groups involved in the January 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol continue to threaten to disrupt the 59th presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021," NPS wrote in a statement on its website, referring to a violent mob of Trump supporters that breached security on Capitol Hill last Wednesday.
The NPS wrote that other parts of the Mall and roadways could be blocked in the coming weeks, as well. The announcement comes days after the security breach on Capitol Hill raised questions about security around Washington, D.C.
Outgoing U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund told The Washington Post that security officials in the House of Representatives and the Senate denied his request to ask the National Guard to be ready to help ahead of last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"If we would have had the National Guard, we could have held them at bay longer until more officers from our partner agencies could arrive," Sund told the Post.
Sund said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger suggested he have informal talks with National Guard officials to have personnel on alert in case they were needed, and that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving expressed discomfort with how it would look to formally declare an emergency ahead of the planned demonstrations by President Donald Trump's supporters.
The newspaper said Stenger declined to discuss the matter when approached for an interview, and that it was unable to reach Irving for comment.
A Pentagon spokesman said last week that U.S. Capitol Police did not make a request for National Guard backup ahead of the riot that left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. A second officer who responded to the assault on the Capitol died off duty.
Pro-Trump rioters overwhelmed the outnumbered Capitol Police and spent several hours inside the building Wednesday as security rushed lawmakers to safety. Authorities took hours reasserting control of the building, with Capitol Police eventually getting help from the National Guard, local police and federal law enforcement agencies.
In the wake of the attack, several lawmakers have questioned Capitol Police preparation. Sund, Stenger and Irving have all resigned.
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