by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Even before last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration was going to buck tradition.
Next Wednesday, there won’t be a crowd gathered on the National Mall to see Biden take his oath of office or hear his first presidential address. People won’t line Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House, cheering and waving flags as he and incoming first lady Jill Biden parade past. And revelers won’t don formal attire for one or many balls, partying into the wee hours of the morning.
And that was because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, plans have changed again after five people were left dead when supporters of President Trump, incensed over the 2020 election results, stormed the Capitol.
Biden’s inaugural committee last month urged the public to steer clear of Washington, D.C., amid the worsening COVID-19 outbreak, fearing the celebrations could become a superspreader event.
But with Biden’s inauguration taking place exactly two weeks after die-hard Trump backers became violent as they tried to stop the certification of the former vice president’s majority of electors, more stringent crowd control measures are being imposed for the festivities.
Up to 15,000 National Guard troops from across the country have been authorized to be deployed to Washington in the coming days to bolster thousands of police and law enforcement forces who will secure Biden’s inaugural. Those forces include the Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police, and Park Police. And the response is complicated by the district’s unique status and each force’s different jurisdiction.
The beefed-up security pales in comparison to Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser’s request of 340 unarmed D.C. National Guard troops for a strict crowd, traffic, and access control mission before last week’s “March to Save America” rally that turned deadly.