The US National Guard will deploy more than 10,000 troops to the nation’s capital ahead of Inauguration Day as security officials warn of plans for continued demonstrations in the wake of the deadly pro-Trump mob attacks on Congress.
At least 6,200 National Guard troops are already in the city after rioters supporting President Donald Trump breached security measures and clashed with the city’s badly-outnumbered police, injuring 14 and resulting in the death of Brian Sicknick, a USCP officer who died “as a result of injuries sustained” during the attacks, police said.
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The National Guard chief said in a statement that, while the exact figures were changing by the hour, he was already authorised to deploy as many as 15,000 guard members.
That would include some 5,000 National Guard members from additional states, which can order troop presences in the nation’s capital during special events and emergencies.
President-elect Joe Biden has assured Americans he was “confident” in the security measures that would allow him to go forward with the swearing-in ceremony on the footsteps of the Capitol, where hundreds of extremists clashed with police officers just last week, leaving a United States Capitol Police officer dead.
Amid questions as to why the National Guard was not more quickly deployed on Wednesday to dissolve the violent riots, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser called on Americans to avoid attending celebrations throughout the city.
“Trumpism won’t die on January 20th,” she said. “Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on January 6th.”
The city has called on the Trump administration to cancel all public gathering permits until four days after the inauguration, as reports said demonstrators were planning more “stop the steal” events across the country while promoting false claims of rampant voter fraud.
Still, Ms Bowser suggested she was confident the swearing-in ceremony would go as planned, adding: “If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy, because we have very extreme factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”
Inauguration Day has been declared a special national security event, which allows the city to unlock additional funding for safety measures while coordinating with federal agencies like the FBI to ensure the events go as prepared.
The Secret Service also takes a leadership role in fortifying the Inauguration Day ceremonies, with assistance from the Park and Capitol police departments.
The news comes after the Capitol police chief said the department asked for six times the amount of reinforcements it eventually received during the mob attacks on the Capitol building.
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