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Politics / Issues

No Large Protests In D.C., On Morning Of Biden's Inauguration

Inauguration Day has been quiet so far in Washington, D.C. Some 25,000 National Guard members are in the city, where insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol just two weeks ago.
Inauguration Day has been quiet so far in Washington, D.C. Some 25,000 National Guard members are in the city, where insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol just two weeks ago.

Some 25,000 National Guard members are in the city where insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol just two weeks ago.

Militias and mass protests were nowhere to be seen in Washington, D.C., by mid-morning Wednesday – a welcome development for security and law enforcement agencies. Some 25,000 National Guard members are in the city, where insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol just two weeks ago.

The FBI warned last week that all 50 state capitals could see violent protests from people who refuse to accept Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden.

But similar to the so-called "Million Militia March" that fizzled on Sunday, some far-right activists are telling their followers to stand down on Inauguration Day, citing a massive security presence at government buildings in Washington and state capitals.

The National Mall has been closed off to the public since Friday, part of an unprecedented security plan that has ringed the Capitol building with razor wire, fenced off Pennsylvania Avenue, and placed dozens of dump trucks to block intersections.

The National Mall has been closed off to the public since Friday, part of an unprecedented security plan that has ringed the Capitol building with razor wire, fenced off Pennsylvania Avenue, and placed dozens of dump trucks to block intersections.
Claire Harbage / NPR
The National Mall has been closed off to the public since Friday, part of an unprecedented security plan that has ringed the Capitol building with razor wire, fenced off Pennsylvania Avenue, and placed dozens of dump trucks to block intersections.

Late Tuesday night, far-right podcaster Nicholas Fuentes told his followers not to go "anywhere near" D.C. or state capitol buildings.

"They are not messing around with this inauguration and they are desperate for an excuse to make an example out of somebody," Fuentes said. "STAY HOME!"

Several factors seem to have taken the wind out of activists' sails. For one thing, the Justice Department is targeting rioters for crimes committed at the U.S. Capitol, making some activists leery of returning to Washington.

In some states, organizers have warned their supporters that police could use new protests as "false flag" events, concocted to gather people for potential arrest.

"I think in some cases, they think that the events that are planned are honey pots that are created to get them in trouble," Oren Segal of the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism recently told NPR.

Also, Twitter and Facebook have clamped down on accounts and message that organizers relied on to fan outrage and draw support – and Parler went down after Amazon stopped hosting the platform, which is popular with far-right extremists.

A Walgreens is boarded up in a nearly empty part of downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
Claire Harbage / NPR
A Walgreens is boarded up in a nearly empty part of downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Trump left the White House aboard Marine One shortly after 8:15 a.m. ET Wednesday morning, heading to Joint Base Andrews. After a brief speech, he boarded Air Force One for a final time, marking the end of a contentious one-term presidency.

Biden's inaugural ceremonies are slated to start around 11:30 a.m. ET. The 46th president will be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts at noon ET on the Capitol's West Front.

Only around 1,000 people will attend the inauguration in person, including former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Members of Congress will also attend. City and federal officials have urged everyone else to watch the ceremony either online or on TV.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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