Washington, state capitals on high alert ahead of Wednesday inauguration

Date17 January 2021
Published date17 January 2021
Only law enforcement, residents who live in the downtown area, members of the press, and people who are staying in the hotels there were allowed to cross the barricade that is leading to the corner of 14 and F, usually a busy junction between the White House and Congress that attracts locals and tourists alike.

Dozens of businesses, from coffee shops to financial institutions were boarded up. At the inner part of the perimeter, crews installed razor wires on top of the existing, 2.5 meter fence. All public access to the National Mall was blocked.

"Caution – K9 at work," reads the sign at the checkpoint at 14 and I. But even locals can't cross all the way down to Pennsylvania Avenue, as it is blocked for all traffic. Several crews were working on Sunday to keep expanding the perimeter, pushing it further away from Capitol Hill. Some of the streets, like K Street, are open for pedestrians, but heavy trucks are blocking any cars from approaching.

Along the Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House, a few residents were riding bikes or taking a Sunday walk. Michelle Topel, a mental health therapist who lives nearby, said that she has never witnessed such a massive presence of law enforcement in the streets. "I've lived in Washington my whole life. It feels like a raw wound. Like my heart has just been ripped out. I love this city. I grew up in the city. I've lived in, worked in, and raised a family in this city, and it's just sad and horrifying," she added.

"I'm old enough to remember the riots [of 1968]. I was a child, but I remember tanks in the streets, but never anything like this," Topel continued. "I was talking to a friend the other day about places where there's always this constant sense of being under threat," she said.

"And here in the United States, up until this moment of time, I think that we have felt like there has been a privilege that we have just taken for granted; that this can't happen here, that we were safe. And in a way I think that there was a sense of privilege associated with that, which has now been sort of stripped away."

Cynthia Brumfield, a cybersecurity analyst who lives in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, said that the situation at the Nation's capital is "apocalyptic."

"It's surreal. We biked down to the Capitol last week and saw the soldiers around; hundreds and hundreds of soldiers around the perimeter," she said. "And it was scary. I have not been scared like that."

"I think this is a show of force that will dissuade...

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