Washington, DC mayor wants tighter security at Biden inauguration

Request comes as US lawmakers raise concerns about ongoing threat of violence from hardline groups after deadly Capitol Hill riot.

National Guard troops cross the grounds of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, on January 10 [Allison Shelley/Reuters]

The mayor of Washington, DC has asked for security to be bolstered during United States President-elect Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration in the US capital after deadly violence on Capitol Hill last week.

In a letter to the US Department of Homeland Security dated January 9 and shared on Twitter on Sunday, Muriel Bowser said that “a very different” approach must be taken during Biden’s inauguration “given the chaos, injury, and death experienced” at the Capitol on January 6.

Five people, including a local police officer, died after supporters of Donald Trump, spurred by the US president’s false claims that November’s election was stolen from him, overran the Capitol building as Congress met to vote to confirm Biden’s election victory.

In the letter, Bowser asked the department to extend emergency provisions to allow federal and local agencies to better prepare for the inauguration.

She requested daily intelligence and threat briefings from the FBI from January 11 to January 24, and for all public gathering permits be cancelled and denied during that period.

Homeland Security must also work with the US Departments of Defense and Justice, as well as Congress and the Supreme Court to establish a federal force deployment for federal property in the capital, she said.

The mayor said her requests “are essential to demonstrating our collective resolve in ensuring the Constitutional transition of power and our nation’s capital in the days leading up to it”.

Threats of violence

Bowser’s letter comes as Democratic US legislators push to impeach Trump for inciting the Capitol rioters, dozens of whom have been arrested and charged with various offences related to the January 6 incident.

On Sunday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said, “The threat from violent extremist groups remains high and the next few weeks are critical in our democratic process” with Biden’s inauguration looming.


Schumer said in a statement that he had spoken on Saturday with FBI Director Christopher Wray to urge him to “relentlessly pursue” the Capitol attackers.

The US Department of Justice said on Sunday that it had charged two more alleged rioters with knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds without legal authority, among other charges.

As investigations into the riot continue, police departments in the US states of Virginia and Washington said they had placed officers on leave as authorities examine whether they took part in the events while off-duty.

Fire departments in Florida and New York City also said they reported to federal authorities allegations that some of their members may have been present when the mob broke into the Capitol.

Meanwhile, US Representative Jason Crow said US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy informed him that 25 domestic terrorism cases have been opened in relation to the riot.

Crow said McCarthy also told him the Pentagon was aware of “further possible threats posed by would-be terrorists” in the days up to and including Biden’s inauguration.

Trump not attending

Meanwhile, Trump has said he would not attend Biden’s inauguration – a decision the US president-elect welcomed last week as “one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on”.

US Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend, however, according to an administration official.

Even before last week’s violence erupted on Capitol Hill, the Biden team had planned a scaled-down inaugural event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think you’re going to see something that’s closer to what the convention was like than a typical inauguration,” Biden said last month, suggesting the festivities would be mostly virtual, as was the case for the Democratic National Convention in August.

“First and foremost, in my objective, is to keep America safe but still allow people to celebrate – to celebrate and see one another celebrate,” he added at that time.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies