Washington: The center of Washington was in lockdown Thursday as more than 20,000 armed National Guard troops were mobilized following the deadly assault on the Capitol and the threat of more violence at the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden.
Police Chief Robert Contee said the US capital was facing “a major security threat” after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building a week ago in a violent bid to block Biden s confirmation that left five people dead.
A day after Trump was impeached in Congress for allegedly supporting the assault, more barriers were being erected and razor wire laid as part of precautions ahead of the January 20 ceremony.
Most of downtown Washington was off-limits to traffic, drawing comparisons to Baghdad s high-security “Green Zone.”
The Secret Service, which is responsible for security affairs, is carrying out an unprecedented closure of the entire National Mall. The entire National Mall is full of vegetation. Hundreds of thousands have traditionally gathered to celebrate the inauguration of the new president.
Security officials warned that armed extremist Trump supporters who may carry explosives would pose a threat to Washington and the state capital next week.
“We are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter,” FBI Director Chris Wray told Vice President Mike Pence in a televised briefing.
“We re concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protest rallies planned here in DC and state capitol buildings around the country in the days to come, that could bring armed individuals within close proximity to government buildings and officials,” he said.