Last Wednesday, just two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, far-right extremists breached the U.S. Capitol Building. For hours on end, they occupied the federal building, threatening police officers, stealing podiums, and even sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk.
In the wake of this disgraceful event, Washington D.C. has declared a state of emergency from Jan. 11 to 24. What does this mean, exactly? Well, at this exact moment, many things are up in the air. Metro closures and curfews are set to be decided on a daily basis depending on the current threat level.
If the situation does turn dangerous, though, the order allows for the mass evacuation of all D.C. residents. Regarding the order, Mayor Muriel Bowser stated, “we may have to do something extraordinary…to maintain safety in the District.”
Despite the likely consequences, right-wing extremists have stated that they are planning to return on Jan. 20. Because of this, there will be a very tight perimeter around the inauguration and all those entering will be thoroughly checked.
The National Guard has also arrived in the Capitol, with an expected 15,000 troops to arrive by the end of the week. Photos have shown the troops sleeping in and around the Capitol, an occurrence that hasn’t happened since 1860.
Many DC residents worry for the state of their city and what could happen in the upcoming days. Residents have rescheduled appointments and taken longer routes in order to avoid the National Mall area.
Comparing this to the Black Lives Matter protests of last summer, many have stated that the police presence was much heavier than that at last week’s MAGA-protest-turned-Capitol-riot. BLM protestors say they were stopped by the military and police on their way back to their apartments after last year’s protests.
These are people who were simply walking and heading home, yet the police felt the need to intervene. But when Capitol rioters kill police and break into a federal building, they get to go home, to possibly be tracked down later.
I interned in D.C. last year and walked by the Capitol building on my way to work. I would walk on the marble plaza as the sun came up, watching the rays reflect off of the enormous dome. The breach last week was a blatant act of disrespect against this beautiful structure and more so against our country as a whole.
As I sit here writing this piece, I am anxious and excited for the days to come. I am overjoyed that Joe Biden will be our president in less than a week’s time. But I am anxious to see what these extremists might do after seeing what they did at the Capitol.
Though Trump is not attending the inauguration ceremony, he needs to understand that this is a serious matter. As seen in posts across social media sites like Parler, these extremists have made it very clear that they are not simply protesting. These people are heavily armed, dangerous, and many are willing to die for their President (as we saw at the Capitol riot).
In the days leading up to the inauguration, thirteen Metro stations will be closed in order to reduce the number of people travelling to and from the Capitol area. The streets within the perimeter of the building have already been closed and will remain that way until after the ceremony.
This entire situation is in stark contrast to President Trump’s inauguration in 2016, where there were no planned riots or prior Capitol breaches. As a Democrat, I wasn’t happy with the results of this election, but like many others, I didn’t go down to the Capitol and destroy things.
Yes, there were protests on Trump’s inauguration day, but nothing like this.
My hope for Joe Biden’s inauguration is that it goes down smoothly and that he makes it back home alive. Like I said, far-right extremists will die for their cause and I wouldn’t hold it past them to attempt to hurt President Biden. Until then, I will have my fingers crossed for a safe, quick exchange of power.