With tensions running high and US authorities on alert ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, there is concern the country could see more acts of political violence.
The FBI has warned the breach of the Capitol will be a “significant driver of violence” for armed militia groups and racist extremists who are targeting the presidential inauguration, according to a joint intelligence bulletin seen by Yahoo News.
The bulletin was issued to law enforcement agencies by the National Counterterrorism Center and the Justice and Homeland Security Departments, and warned of the potential for “more sporadic, lone-actor or small-cell violence”.
For those set to attend the inauguration, it’s a reminder of the bitter tumult that grips the country as Donald Trump prepares to leave office – and its potentially fatal consequences.
Reporter shares confronting text conversation
Washington Post reporter Hannah Natanson shared a text conversation with her mother which highlighted the concerns held by some.
“Before you cover the inauguration shall we get you a bullet proof vest,” her mum asked.
“You could wear it under your coat and feel safer.”
Posting the message online, Ms Natanson said it was an “utterly surreal” text to get from her mother.
Just an utterly surreal message to receive from my mother. pic.twitter.com/rorLTCZTBp
— Hannah Natanson (@hannah_natanson) January 12, 2021
In a follow-up text message, the journalist said her mother had been doing some “research” for her.
“RE: Bullet proof vests: ‘Make sure to get one that rides high on your body. It may feel more comfortable or natural to wear lower, but your vital organs are concentrated between your neck and your stomach. That’s what you want to protect’,” she wrote to her daughter.
‘It’s odd’: Washington on lockdown ahead of inauguration
The threat of violence has likely reduced the amount of people who will attend the Biden inauguration, which was already scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Home-sharing giant Airbnb and subsidiary HotelTonight were cancelling all reservations in Greater Washington during the inauguration week.
Roads near the Capitol, which were overrun with violent protesters on January 6, have been closed.
The National Park Service has closed the Washington Monument to tours and the DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked visitors to stay away.
There is set to be 20,000 troops from the National Guard deployed for Joe Biden’s inauguration – more than double the 8,000 that were on hand for Trump’s 2016 inauguration, according to Reuters at the time.
Some of those troops have already landed in Washington, providing an unusual scene as they litter the Capitol building trying to get some shut-eye.
Journalist Nathaniel Reed was among the many reporters in Washington to share pictures on social media after stumbling upon the hoards of defence personnel.
“It is odd,” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“Lots of uniformed army national guard. Most defence I’ve ever seen.”
Just walked into the Capitol to find literally hundreds of troops napping and lining up in the Congressional Visitor Center— as streets around here are largely blocked.
Many are cuddling their firearms, fatigues over their heads to block light, and riot gear in neat piles. pic.twitter.com/vCHAOGMdfA
— Nathaniel Reed (@ReedReports) January 13, 2021
Despite online chatter and concern among authorities of Trump supporters returning to Washington, he says there has been no sign of protesters in recent days.
“Since they’ve stepped it up, I haven’t seen a single protester,” Mr Reed said.
On the morning of the impeachment vote against Donald Trump, there was a quiet in the building that was the site of a bloody siege just days ago.
“Inside, things are actually pretty empty — with folks respecting social distancing.”
The incoming troops have been responsible for securing the city before Biden’s inauguration, with new fencing engulfing the Capitol area.
A sampling of pre-inauguration road closures in effect in Washington DC right now. pic.twitter.com/pKG6YIg05k
— Jackson Proskow (@JProskowGlobal) January 14, 2021
Google Maps images shared by journalists on the ground show the extensive road closures that surround the Capitol.
Acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen warned against further attacks in a video released on Wednesday. He urged the public to come forward with tips about potential attacks and threats before the inauguration, including “attempts to forcefully occupy government buildings,” he said.
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