WASHINGTON – There were few protesters and no crowds or violence on Wednesday as Joe Biden was sworn in as the country’s 46th president amid historic security.
The small inauguration crowd, limited by law enforcement constraints and COVID-19, was complemented by around 25,000 National Guard members who descended on the city already covered with law enforcement personnel state and local. The mission was to ensure that there was no repeat of the deadly riot that rocked the Capitol and the nation two weeks ago.
The streets of Washington were quiet and security was tight. There have been a few scattered arrests, but no serious disruptions. And a bomb threat was issued to target the Supreme Court, opposite the Capitol, just before the opening ceremonies began.
“The court has received a bomb threat, the building and grounds have been checked and the building is not being evacuated,” court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said. The building has been closed to the public for months due to COVID 19.
Concrete barriers, chain link fences and military trucks blocked access to many downtown streets and buildings for days.
“Violence and mindless criminal conduct are not the right way to resolve disputes or promote change in our country,” Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement. “Anyone who does this will be arrested and prosecuted.”
Vice President Mike Pence attended the inauguration, but President Donald Trump was conspicuously absent from the festivities, still clinging to his discredited claims that the election was stolen. Trump last left the White House as president early Wednesday, linked with First Lady Melania Trump for Florida and their home in Mar-a-Lago.
Security had been tightened in most state capitals across the country, but no incidents were reported.
News you should know:
- Vice President Mike Pence attended the inauguration. President Donald Trump was not.
- Bridges to Washington are closed until Thursday, according to the Secret Service. More than a dozen metro stations will be closed until Thursday.
- Capitol riot arrests: see who’s been charged in the United States
Trump supporter came to Washington despite election result
Floridian Mark Thompson, a Trump supporter, had been planning to take his student son Daniel to the inauguration for nearly a year. He bought plane tickets and made hotel reservations last February, hoping that by booking so far in advance he might find great prices. But between the pandemic and the Capitol Riot, all hope of attending the event has faded. Thompson still decided to come to Washington.
“We just went through the fence,” which covers most of downtown Washington, said Mark Thompson.
Olivia Houlden, a senior from George Washington University who had just returned to Washington after studying abroad and months of distance learning, said it was “strange how different the city was. ” Before his departure.
“It’s really sad,” she said of the cordoned off streets and security checkpoints that made it impossible to approach the National Mall to witness Biden’s inauguration. “It’s so hard to see something like this happen in a city that you love.”
– David Heath and William Cummings
Lots of security, few protesters in state capitals across the country
Warnings of possible violence had been issued for state capitals as a US capitol, and most states had also tightened security. Temporary fences, roadblocks, and National Guard soldiers were more the rule than the exception. But no violence and few protests were reported. In Kansas, two protesters showed up at Statehouse in Topeka – a pro Trump, a pro-Biden. At the North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh, less than a dozen protesters encountered law enforcement blanket.
“It’s peaceful, and I don’t care about the police,” said Thomas Conner de Beaufort, adding that he was concerned that Biden’s presidency means “losing a way of life.”
– Brian Gordon
‘He’s an old man, but a good guy’: retiree encouraged by Biden
David Minette, 65, left San Jose, Calif., With his son who was starting a new job in DC this week at a local hospital. He was planning to come to Biden’s inauguration as he helped his son settle in. Now a Phoenix resident, Minette is a retired plumber. Her son is a perfusionist and operates heart-lung machines during the surgery. Heightened security to enter a downtown checkpoint forced Minette to queue for more than 30 minutes. Minette called the security fortress “overkill” but “I understand that. If you leave one, 50,000 will enter. But he was encouraged by Biden’s presidency.
“He’s an old man but he’s a good guy,” Minette said of Biden. “Trump is, well, Trump. I’m glad he’s gone.”
– Ryan miller
Sellers find few customers for their goods
Another year, t-shirts depicting the first woman to run for vice-president might have been easier to sell than hand warmers on the cold streets of Washington. But it’s 2021, barely two weeks after an insurgency on Capitol Hill, and with tourists urged to stay away, vendors have been left with lots of merchandise and few customers.
A few blocks from the White House, an approximately 2,000 square foot store in Penn Quarter was empty except for three employees. The area was safe and well documented: journalists outnumbered ordinary citizens around 15 to 1.
– Gabe Lacques
From Georgia, via Dublin, praying for Trump, Biden
Salana Reed is originally from Savannah, Georgia but lives in Dublin. She arrived in Washington on Tuesday evening and was walking near the city’s Union Station on Wednesday.
“I felt led by the Holy Spirit that I had to come for a walk and pray for some people and pray for our old president and our new president,” Reed said. “And admire some of the sites.
She said she felt “blessed” and thought that “this year is going to be a wonderful year … Things will start to improve.”
– Rasha Ali
Hoping to heal
Robbie Shiver was walking his 2-year-old blue-nosed pit bull, Blue, past Union Station on Wednesday morning. Shiver, wearing a black mask bearing Breonna Taylor’s name, described the atmosphere in Washington this week as “crazy.” But he said he was hardly surprised to see predominantly white rioters treated differently from predominantly black protesters during social justice marches this summer.
“I feel like some of the signs are coming,” he says. “It was just a really contentious time. I hope that with Biden coming to power, we can kind of start to heal some of those wounds and move forward eventually.”
– Thomas schad
Barricade blocks, life goes on
Six blocks from the barricades and an overwhelming military presence in the downtown core, life went on as usual. At Logan Circle, residents jog or walk their dogs. Emily Brown, a Catholic University graduate student in a bright red Biden / Harris sweatshirt, said she would try to get close to Capitol Hill but expected to have to broadcast the event online. Brown said she was optimistic for the next four years.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” she said. “But there is a lot of work to be done.”
– N’dea Yancey-Bragg
Everything is calm in the early morning
Before sunrise on Wednesday, the heavily guarded capital of the country woke up to a cold rain. Residents, runners and dog walkers appeared to be the only civilians navigating the roads blocked by barricades, 10-foot fences and security checkpoints. Only members of the news media constantly walked towards the National Mall, which has become an armed camp. At one checkpoint, officers said only six checks were completed before 6:30 a.m.
– Josh Rivera and N’dea Yancey-Bragg
Working Families Party obtains unique protest permit
On a normal inauguration day, Washington is teeming with protesters for causes of all shapes and sizes. But strict security restrictions have discouraged such activity. The DC Action Lab, an organization that helps other groups navigate the complicated permitting process, has secured a space at Union Station’s Columbus Circle for a protest that will be largely virtual, reports The Washington Post. A giant screen will show speeches and videos for the Working Families Party calling on President-elect Joe Biden to adopt “more progressive policies,” according to the Park Service permit.
12 members of the National Guard abandoned from the security mission
Twelve National Guard soldiers were dismissed from their security duties at the Capitol after questionable behavior was detected in their past during the security check, Army General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the office of the military, said on Tuesday. the National Guard. Two of that group had made inappropriate comments or texts about the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. But not all 12 have ties to extremist groups, he said.
“We’re not taking any chances,” said Hoffman, who called the comments the two made inappropriate text.
Of the 12, 10 were identified by the FBI during a security check, Hokanson said. Another was reported by commanders and the last was identified by an anonymous tipster.
– Tom Vanden Brook and Jorge Ortiz
3 former US servicemen accused of conspiracy in attack on Capitol Hill
Three former members of the United States military are the first people to be accused of plotting the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol. The FBI said Thomas Edward Caldwell, 66, of Clarke County, Va., Appeared to be the leader of a group that included Jessica Watkins, 38, and Donovan Crowl, 50, both residents of Champaign County , in Ohio. Caldwell served in the Navy, Watkins in the Army, and Crowl in the Marines.
All three are linked to paramilitary activities and have been charged with conspiracy and other federal charges, the first of more than 125 people arrested in connection with the deadly riot to face conspiracy charges.
Court documents filed Tuesday reveal insight into the planning and coordination behind the attack, as well as the messaging between the defendants and others. Some of the posts called Capitol lawmakers “traitors” and called for a “night hunt.”