“We are all focused on preparing for the upcoming presidential inauguration. Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its ground on January the 6th.” Bowser, a Democrat, told reporters at a press conference.
As Bowser spoke, a slide stated, “We are asking Americans NOT TO COME TO WASHINGTON, DC for the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20, and to instead participate virtually.”
Primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for the inauguration are more muted than typical presidential swearing-in ceremonies. The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced earlier this month an inauguration parade was canceled in a bid to limit the number of people attending in-person. The parade will be virtual.
Military members will attend the ceremony so that President-elect Joe Biden can review their readiness but the participants will be socially distanced and have to pass through “vigorous health and safety protocols,” the committee said.
The committee announced Monday that Biden would be joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton in a wreath-laying ceremony on the same day of the inauguration. According to the committee, the theme of the inauguration is “America United.”
“At a time of unprecedented crisis and deep divisions, America United reflects the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together, and creates a path to a brighter future,” the committee stated.
President-elect Joe Biden arrives at the Queen in Wilmington, Del., on Jan. 10, 2021. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)
Bowser, the mayor of Washington, has asked President Donald Trump to issue a pre-emergency declaration for the District of Columbia, which was granted for Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. She said the declaration is necessary because of the pandemic and the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In addition, the mayor sent a letter over the weekend to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, requesting his department extend the national security event period from Jan. 11 to Jan. 24. She asked for the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate with the Pentagon, Department of Justice, Congress, and the Supreme Court to establish a plan to protect all federal property during that time period.
Bowser also asked acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to direct the FBI to give an intelligence and threat briefing on a daily basis from Jan. 11 to Jan. 25 to law enforcement officials in Washington, and that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt cancel all public gathering permits and deny all applications for permits during the time period.
The National Park Service, which is part of the Interior Department, said Monday that it was shutting down access to the Washington Monument until Jan. 24 because of “credible threats to visitors and park resources.”
Groups involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol breach “continue to threaten to disrupt the 59th presidential inauguration,” the agency said.