DC police chief says ‘there are people who want to come armed to our city’ ahead of inauguration protests
In order to certify Joe Biden’s election win this week, Washington DC has mobilized the National Guard to aid police with planned demonstrations by Donald Trump supporters ahead of the Congressional election.
Amid fears of violence, the police chief and mayor of Washington issued alerts that it is illegal to carry weapons for the demonstrations and advised people to avoid places where far-right groups, including the Proud Boys, are preparing to assemble.
The protests come as the newly sworn-in Congress convenes to formally count and ratify votes from the Electoral College on Wednesday, the last official move before President-elect Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.
Officials said that, while they would not bring weapons, 300 local National Guard members would be deployed to assist the police.
Trump supporters are planning to rally on Tuesday and Wednesday to reinforce the President’s false accusations of widespread voter fraud and, following reports, could appear at a rally at the Ellipse near the White House.
In addition to the already stringent DC firearms laws, weapons carrying restrictions were placed in place for the region from Monday to Thursday of this week.
The mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser, also released a reminder that carrying weapons was illegal, while two places of protest are expected to assemble in the National Park Service areas, including the National Mall and Freedom Plaza. Open ownership of a weapon is illegal all over the city as well.
The step comes as Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, was arrested in DC on charges of property damage – a charge linked to a previous pro-Trump protest – and possession of two illicit ammunition magazines and a high-capacity feeding system.
According to a Washington Post article last week, Proud Boys figures, who the FBI said were “ties to white nationalism” had persuaded members to remove their trademark black T-shirts in order to help prevent detection.
“The Proud Boys will show up in record numbers on Jan. 6, but this time with a twist,” Tarrio said before his arrest on Parler’s messaging service. “We will not wear our traditional black and yellow. We will be incognito and spread out in smaller teams across downtown DC.”
At the protests on social media, other unidentified people discussed their aspirations for violence.
Throughout downtown, DC police have posted signs advising that carrying some kind of weapon is illegal, and Acting Police Chief Robert Contee asked people to alert authorities about someone who might be armed. Contee said Monday, “There are people who intend to come into our city armed,”
After earlier pro-Trump protests late last year, concern has increased with the same groups ending with a rash of stabbings and vandalizing many churches with a tradition of black worship.
On social media, far-right activists have also debated how to get around legislation restricting the open carrying of firearms in DC and getting guns close to the White House on federal property.
Trump has consistently welcomed the demonstrations this week and indicated that he might become personally involved. He retweeted a promotion for the rally over the weekend with the message, “I’ll be there. Historic day!”
Newly elected Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who said she wants to carry her handgun in Congress, also fuelled the feverish mood in Washington.
A video was released Sunday by the Republican from the town of Rifle in the U.S. state of Colorado in which she vowed to bring her gun around town and in Congress, walking down different streets.
Lauren Boebert Boebert
(@laurenboebert) (in German)
Let me tell you why I Would have my Glock brought to Congress. I promise to always stand strong for our 2nd Amendment rights.https://t.co/E75tYpdN4B pic.twitter.com/qg7QGenrNoNo The government does NOT tell me or my constituents how we can keep our families safe.
4th January, 2021
She was reminded by the police chief that she would be “subject to the same penalties as anyone else caught carrying a firearm on the streets of DC.”
A congresswoman’s spokesperson said she was arrested during the video shoot despite de de de