News & Politics

DC Mayor Says Americans Should Not Come to Washington for the Inauguration

She's also requesting the Department of the Interior revoke any permits to demonstrate.

Police guard the Capitol in the aftermath of rioting on January 6. Photograph by Evy Mages

In a press conference today, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said Americans should not come to Washington, DC, for the presidential inauguration on January 20. Citing the danger of a potential repeat of the violence witnessed at the Capitol on Wednesday, Bowser is also asking the Department of the Interior to revoke any existing permits, and not issue any new permits for demonstrations in the city from January 11 through January 24.

As of today, the inauguration will still be held in its usual public location at the west front of the US Capitol. Anyone hoping to catch a glimpse, though, will be sorely disappointed—a 7-foot-tall, non-scalable fence has been erected around the entirety of the Capitol grounds, and there will be serious security and potential road closures in the area on the day of the swearing-in.

All told, 6,200 National Guardsmen from across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic were in the city this past weekend; as many as 15,000 may be deployed in coming days. Some 850 guardsmen were stationed at the Capitol on Thursday; it’s unclear how they’ll be distributed on the 20th. When asked by a journalist to respond to reports that the National Guardsmen in the city were currently unarmed, Bowser responded, “only the President can arm the National Guard.”

There have already been reports of planned armed protests at the Capitol from January 17 through January 20, leading the National Monument and other National Park Service facilities around the city to close through January 24 out of precaution. It’s likely the ban on indoor dining in DC will be extended through the 24th as well.

Bowser is encouraging Americans to partake in the ceremony virtually, and for residents to text INAUG2021 to 888-777 to get updates on public safety, road closures, and transit updates around the inauguration. When asked whether she’d request the inauguration be held in private out of safety concerns, Bowser responded, “the transition of power happens when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in…that event should be public.”

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.