People attend a rally on Freedom Plaza Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in People attend a rally on Freedom Plaza Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in Washington to support President Donald Trump. in support of President Donald Trump.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP
Federal headquarters across Washington is getting extra layers of protection as thousands of President Trump’s supporters flock to the capital to protest Joe Biden’s certification as President-elect by Congress.
An area of several blocks around the White House were closed to the public on Tuesday, and many streets in a larger radius were closed to vehicles. By noon the headquarters of the Veterans Department and the Export-Import Bank were boarded up, and both buildings were only accessible to authorized personnel. Police tape, barricades, DC Metropolitan Police Department officials, National Guardsmen, and federal personnel all contributed to the blockades in downtown Washington. MPD confirmed that it worked with federal officials during the protests.
« While MPD does not talk about operational tactics as it does with any known large demonstration, we continue to monitor and evaluate every activity and plan accordingly with our local and federal law enforcement partners, » said Alaina Gertz, a spokeswoman for MPD.
Trump supporters gathered in Washington prior to the confirmation of the election votes by Congress on Wednesday to formalize Biden’s victory, which the president falsely labeled as fraudulent, and at least a handful of Republicans Legislators will try to disturb him. As the protesters gathered to speak and marched into the city, many of the agency’s headquarters faced closed streets with government vehicles physically blocking access routes. While private companies across the region had already boarded up windows and doors or were in the process of boarding them, most federal buildings did not take this step.
Public access was more restricted on Tuesday than at the height of the protests against police brutality last year, when many federal buildings in Washington were destroyed and otherwise damaged. The presence of federal law enforcement agencies also differed from the summer demonstrations, and this time it appeared much smaller. The government official eyed National Park Service employees for a stage on the ellipse south of the White House, as well as members of the United States Park Police, intelligence and federal protection services, and the DC National Guard. That said, the number pale compared to the heavy federal presence following the police assassination of George Floyd when Trump federalized crackdown on protesters.
Police and other government vehicles blocked traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue and in all directions for several blocks. This not only restricted access to VA and the Export-Import Bank, but also prevented vehicles from going near the headquarters of the Department of Justice, Commerce, and the Treasury, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. agency for international development, Customs and borders get protection and several other agencies. Barricades formed a perimeter around FBI headquarters, while security personnel were stationed outside in the courthouse. The workers also prepared far more barricades for distribution. The Office of Human Resources did not respond to a request whether it would increase flexibility for employees signing up to work in the area, many of whom are already working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protests and rallies on Tuesday passed peacefully as Trump supporters from across the country gathered, dressed in Make America Great Again clothing, sang that the president would serve four more years and pleaded with members of Congress to « stop the theft. » The biggest events are expected to take place on Wednesday.
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