The Presidential Inauguration: How to Be Prepared in the Week Ahead

The 59th Presidential Inauguration will take place on the West Lawn of the US Capitol on 20 January at 12:00PM EST. Authorities are asking the public not to travel into DC to attend the inauguration events. Many events, including a number of inaugural balls and a celebration organized by the Biden inaugural committee, will be conducted virtually. The inauguration was designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE) from 13 January to 21 January by federal law enforcement agencies and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a public emergency in the District through 21 January. The city already closed major roads immediately surrounding the Capitol, creating increased traffic, and additional road closures will go into effect in the days leading up to the inauguration.

  • The swearing in ceremony, which is generally attended by 200,000 individuals, will be reduced to a capacity of just 1,000 spectators, due to both health and security concerns.
  • In addition to street closures, parking garages in downtown DC are expected to close, the National Mall will be blocked off, and Airbnb announced that it is not accepting reservations in the region during the week of the inauguration.

 

In the days leading up to the Presidential Inauguration and following the events at the US Capitol on 6 January, we anticipate civil unrest and the potential for violence in and around the DC area and at locations throughout the country. Law enforcement agencies in the DC region and in state capitols across the US are preparing for armed protests related to the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden based on warnings from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

  • We expect increased security posture by law enforcement in the DC area and in large metropolitan areas across the country. This may include unplanned street and building closures.

 

Consider taking the following steps to be prepared for the week ahead.

Washington, D.C. Metro Area

  • Maintain vigilance while traveling in and out of the DC area, including at airports, in train stations, and while using public transportation. There are a lot of people traveling to the area for the inauguration who may be emotionally charged and more reactionary than normal. Videos have been circulating the internet recently of arguments breaking out on flights in and out of the city.
  • Register for DC alerts and identify reliable news and local authority sources to stay updated; examples include the mayor’s website, and local law enforcement publications from Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol Police, and the Secret Service. Identify these sources early, so you know where to look if something occurs.
  • Prior to leaving the house, check the WTOP website for up-to-date information on both planned and unplanned road closures and detours.
  • Avoid national landmarks, monuments, and government buildings that may be symbolic targets. For example, the Washington Monument in Washington, DC is closed through 24 January due to credible threats.
  • Ensure you have a family communication plan in place to check in with family members should violent riots occur.
  • If you are faced with a negative confrontation or get caught up in an unplanned protest, do not engage, remain calm, and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Seek out a law enforcement official, if necessary.
  • Be prepared to shelter-in-place; the mayor may enact a curfew or a state of emergency as a result of civil unrest.
  • Be cognizant of the increased risk of COVID-19 at large gatherings, such as protests.

 

National

  • Monitor local news and law enforcement postings for protests at state capitols or local government buildings.
  • Register for local alerts and identify reliable news and local authority sources to stay updated; examples include the mayor’s website, local law enforcement publications, and emergency alerting systems. Identify these sources early, so you know where to look if something occurs.
  • Avoid city landmarks, monuments, and government buildings that may be symbolic targets. In particular, avoid areas surrounding state capitol buildings.
  • Prior to leaving the house, check local department of transportation websites for up-to-date information on both planned and unplanned road closures and detours.
  • Ensure you have a family communication plan in place to check in with family members should violent riots occur.
  • If you are faced with a negative confrontation or get caught up in an unplanned protest, do not engage, remain calm, and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Seek out a law enforcement official, if necessary.
  • Be prepared to shelter-in-place; local authorities may enact a curfew or a state of emergency as a result of civil unrest.
  • Be cognizant of the increased risk of COVID-19 at large gatherings, such as protests.

 

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