U.S. Soldiers with the Virginia National Guard listen to a squad leader briefing after arriving near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 13, 2021. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from several states have traveled to Washington to provide support to federal and district authorities leading up to the 59th Presidential Inauguration. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
Inauguration Day is quickly approaching, and Americans are still on edge from the Capitol siege on Jan. 6. To prevent a repeat of the Capitol Hill defense failures, law enforcement and the National Guard are gearing up in Washington as several states make preparations for any potential violent uprisings, which the FBI warned about in a leaked intelligence bulletin.
“[As of Jan. 11], we have approximately 6,200 National Guard soldiers and airmen from six states and the District of Columbia on the ground in the NCR supporting civilian authorities,” Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in a press release, referring to the National Capital Region. “We have received support requests from the Secret Service, Capitol Police, and Park Police, and have been authorized to provide up to 15,000 Guard members to meet current and future inauguration support requirements.”
US Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman released a statement Monday stating that the USCP has “comprehensive, coordinated plans in place to ensure the safety and security of the Congressional community and the upcoming Presidential Inauguration.”
In addition, Pittman said that the public would not have access to Capitol grounds during the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20 as a part of these security measures.
In past #inaugurations, @DCGuard1802 has escorted #presidents, marched in parades & ensured #safety of participants. While DC Guard plays no less pivotal a role, this year is turning out to be a bit different. Nevertheless we're #alwaysready #alwaysthere https://t.co/tt4jP8bebm pic.twitter.com/g7aME0j4Sk
— District of Columbia National Guard (@DCGuard1802) January 14, 2021
According to The New York Times, a group of elite special operations commandos will be partaking in security measures for Inauguration Day in addition to local, state, and federal law enforcement and the National Guard. These commandos are working under a classified counterterror program under the code name Power Geyser.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard to assist local and state law enforcement at the Minnesota Capitol building in St. Paul, according to a press release. The activation was in response to the violence in Washington, DC, Jan. 6, and the active threat of armed protests at state capitols. The Minnesota State Patrol has bolstered its presence at the state Capitol and the surrounding area.
“We will always support Minnesotans’ First Amendment rights to peacefully protest, but anyone involved in violent, illegal activity will be held accountable,” Walz said in a statement. “We are tracking reports and monitoring the situation closely to enhance our response and change tactics as needed.”
Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie requested the National Guard be activated by Gov. Kate Brown for “potential upcoming civil unrest/protests.” Brown approved the request Wednesday, according to a press release. National Guard soldiers will be posted throughout the state to bolster local and state law enforcement, but their numbers and location will not be released.
“With the Oregon National Guard supplementing OSP ranks, we will be ready to ensure peaceful events and handle emergency situations,” Oregon State Police Capt. Timothy Fox said in a statement.
The Department of Justice said that its Texas US attorneys announced a warning of their intent to prosecute any crimes associated with the state Capitol. The announcement came the same day Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo held a press conference to confirm that officials are switching the department to a tactical posture up until Inauguration Day to address any potential violence against government property. This tactical posture will include increased patrols and prohibition of officers taking any time off from Jan. 15 to 20. Acevedo said that officials are taking an “all hands on deck” approach because Texas is a “hotbed” for militia and hate groups.
Joshua Skovlund has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. He went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.
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