Central Washington is an armed fortress, fenced in with razor wire and surrounded by 25,000 National Guard troops ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, a stark contrast to previous inaugurations when the United States capital burst into feast days.
The COVID-19 pandemic had already canceled the inaugural balls. Now, the National Mall is closed to the public due to threats of violence from groups that attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Almost none of the citizens will witness the transition of power firsthand, souring Washingtonians’ spirits.
“It’s like a ghost town but with soldiers,” said Dana O’Connor, who walked with her husband past concrete barriers near the White House on Sunday. “It’s strange. It sounds super unnatural.
Previous openings have sometimes drawn more than a million spectators to the National Mall, to watch the ceremony on giant TV screens and the new president marching from the Capitol to the White House. Balls and parties in hotel ballrooms and city convention halls greeted guests with champagne and music from top stars.
Presidential inaugurations are normally high security events, with metal detectors at key entry points, restricted areas only, and the National Guard complementing local and federal law enforcement. But the level of precautions this year is unprecedented.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Sunday law enforcement officials had no choice but to tighten security after the deadly attack on Capitol Hill, where “the so-called patriots would attempt to overthrow their government and kill police officers ”.
“We don’t want to see any fences. We certainly don’t want to see armed troops on our streets. But we have to take a different stance, ”Bowser said on NBC’s Meet the Press show.
The city will hardly see the $ 107 million increase in tax revenue that a groundbreaking week normally brings, estimates the DowntownDC Business Improvement District.