DC, states scramble to boost security; National Park Service says no final decision on closure of Mall

The western front of the United States Capitol, at the east end of the National Mall. (Architect of the Capitol/Released)

The nation’s capital and cities across the nation were developing plans to increase security as Inauguration Day ticked closer.

In Washington, more than a dozen Metro train stations will be closed, some 15,000 National Guard troops will swarm the city for the inauguration Wednesday of President-elect Joe Biden. The National Park Service said that it has not yet made a final decision on whether the National Mall would also be completely shut down.

But an FBI warning of possible armed protests at state capitol buildings across the nation next week, along with likely rallies in other cities, raises the question of whether the country can be fully prepared for possible violence.

Groups tracking right-wing extremist organizations have said preparations for more violence are underway.

University of Maryland historian Terry Bouton, who has joined or witnessed dozens of protests in Washington over the last two decades, says he hasn’t seen anything quite like what transpired Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. And he wasn’t even close enough to see the chaos inside.

“Some people were so angry, screaming with outrage, yet it all seemed so well-organized and orchestrated,” Bouton said. “If they are using the similar kinds of tactics elsewhere they are going rile up a lot of people who had no plan to engage in violence.”

In D.C., tours have been halted at the Washington Monument. The National Park Service said news reports claiming the entire National Mall will be closed were incorrect, but that no decision had been made. The mall stretches over 2 miles from the Lincoln Memorial on the west end to the U.S. Capitol on the east.

“No final decision has been made regarding closures on the National Mall for the inaugural events,” the agency said in a statement. “When a decision is reached, an announcement will be made by the United States Secret Service and/or National Park Service.”

In New York City, NYPD says it is boosting security at Trump Tower as a precaution.

“From now through the inauguration we will have a robust presence at Trump affiliated locations,” the police department announced days after the Capitol riot. “After the inauguration we will reevaluate our security posture.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week that there were no tangible threats against the city.

“We are absolutely ready if one emerges to move the resources in place to address it quickly,” he said.

In Los Angeles, six people were arrested after multiple fights erupted Wednesday as dozens of protesters rallied in front of City Hall. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said there were no known threats but that it is “monitoring the situation” and will be prepared should protests or violence take place.

“You can’t monitor them,” Bouton warned. “They got knocked off of Twitter and Parler, so they are on encrypted sites now and who knows what they are talking about.”


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