Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser made it clear, Tuesday, that the city will be locked down for Wednesday’s planned rallies in support of President Donald Trump, and that weapons of any kind will not be permitted.
She also warned D.C. residents to avoid going downtown and to resist confronting rally-goers, even if rally-goers become aggressive.
On Monday, Bowser’s office sent a request to the Pentagon, asking to activate the National Guard to help keep peace on the National Mall on Wednesday, as thousands of Trump supporters are expected to convene on the nation’s capital to pressure Members of Congress to resist certifying the Electoral College vote. Organizers expect one large rally — promoted by no less than the president — as well as several other, smaller rallies, put together by pro-Trump groups.
The rallies coincide with a vote to certify the Electoral College results in Congress. Republicans in both the House and Senate say they plan to delay certification, challenging the results in several states that President Trump and the GOP claim experienced coordinated vote fraud.
The Trump campaign has filed dozens of legal challenges against November’s presidential election results with no success. Wednesday’s vote in Congress is the administration’s last hope for challenging Joe Biden’s presumptive win.
D.C.’s NBC affiliate reports that Bowser is looking to lock down the city’s downtown area, even though none of the organizing groups have promised violence.
“D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged people Sunday to stay away from the downtown area during upcoming demonstrations, and away from people coming to the area to cause violence and destruction,” the outlet noted, citing an interview Bowser gave over the weekend to MSNBC.
Bowser added, later, that she “will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city” and warned residents not to respond to Trump supporters “looking for a fight.”
I am asking Washingtonians and those who live in the region to stay out of the downtown area on Tuesday and Wednesday and not to engage with demonstrators who come to our city seeking confrontation, and we will do what we must to ensure all who attend remain peaceful.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) January 3, 2021
In her MSNBC interview, Bowser also added that she plans to ban weapons at the Wednesday rally.
“No one has the right to violate the law by bringing in a weapon, by destroying property or by antagonizing other people,” she said. She later said that police would not allow guns to be carried “within 1,000 feet of any First Amendment activity” per district law and that signs would be posted to that effect around designated protest areas. Under Federal law, Bowser added, “it is illegal to possess firearms on the U.S. Capitol grounds and on National Park Service Areas such as Freedom Plaza, the Ellipse, and the National Mall.”
The signs reportedly went up on Tuesday.
— Jesse Burkett-Hall (@BurkettHall) January 3, 2021
Around 350 National Guard troops are expected to assist in traffic and crowd control Wednesday, but it is important to note that Bowser did not call out a similar show of force in August, when “anti-fascist” protesters demonstrated outside the White House, ultimately threatening members of Congress who were exiting a Republican National Convention speech.
And although black-clad leftist agitators attacked businesses in Washington, D.C., over the summer and set fire to an outbuilding associated with a historic church located just outside the White House gates, community organizers warned that Wednesday’s rally attendees are threatening “sacred spaces.”
“We now know that these people come into town to harm, intimidate and desecrate sacred spaces,” one organizer told local media.
Wednesday’s events are slated to begin at 11 am.
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