"I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside," President-elect Joe Biden previously said

By Wendy Grossman Kantor
January 20, 2021 11:34 AM
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Eight-foot tall fences surround the U.S. Capitol. Streets are closed, metro stations shuttered, and thousands of National Guard troops have arrived in Washington D.C.

In the wake of the deadly attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, the Secret Service has launched an unprecedented level of security for President-elect Joe Biden's Inauguration Day.

"We cannot allow a recurrence of the chaos and illegal activity that the United States and the world witnessed last week," said Matt Miller, head of the Washington Field Office for the Secret Service, at a press conference last Friday.

Last week, the Pentagon authorized up to 25,000 National Guard members for the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Credit: Jeenah Moon - Pool/Getty

Traditionally, large crowds gather to watch the Inauguration Day parade and swearing-in ceremony. But there are no jumbotrons or port-a-potty's downtown this year, since the National Parks Service closed the National Mall days ago, and people have been asked to watch the ceremony from home.

Even if people want to attend, it will be difficult to get there since many major bridges into the city are closed, as well as nearby metro stations and many surrounding streets. Concrete barriers and security checkpoints have been set up throughout the city.

Despite FBI reports of threats from violent, armed demonstrators — with lawmakers having received threats to their personal safety — the swearing-in ceremony will not be moved to an indoor, secure location. Instead, Biden, 78, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, 56, will be sworn in on the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol as planned.

"I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside," Biden said last Monday.

Joe Biden
| Credit: ANGELA WEISS/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, the Capitol was breached by pro-Trump rioters who broke through police barricades. On Inauguration Day, there will probably be more law enforcement officers than spectators. Even mailboxes have been removed or locked, the U.S. Postal Service announced, CNN reports.

"The President-elect and Vice President-elect are focused on safeguarding the security of the American people, our institutions and our democratic values," Biden's transition team said in a statement.

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Last Monday, The White House announced that Trump declared a state of emergency in Washington D.C. allowing law enforcement agencies to band together and work quickly to prepare. The weekend before the inauguration, the Capitol braced for protests and attacks.

"Unlike Jan. 6, nobody has to ask for the National Guard anymore," a Secret Service official who has helped coordinate past inaugurations told the Washington Post. "Nobody has to send out an emergency call for the FBI SWAT team. They're all there, pre-positioned and ready."