I wanted to pull together a wide-ranging update on what Ward 6 neighbors can expect over the next few days and lay out the preparations the District is undertaking.
First, I know many are anxious right now, and understandably so. I'm working hard to make sure that plans and personnel are in place to ensure the safety of our residents. My focus is also on how these plans are going to focus on the neighborhoods and communities outside the fenced federal areas that will have a strong military presence. I am receiving daily confidential briefings on extremist intelligence, coordinating with MPD and HSEMA regularly, and meeting with the DC National Guard and US Capitol Police leadership. Please know that things remain fluid and may change with limited notice. I'll do my best to keep everyone posted, but please feel free to reach out to me with questions and sign up for the city's alert system noted below.
I want to say at the top: please plan to take in the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris virtually. Do not come to the US Capitol or the National Mall or along Pennsylvania Avenue. I know the inauguration is a special time for our country and even more so for DC residents who in the past may have watched the peaceful transfer of power in-person after taking a walk or short Metro ride from home.
As we saw on January 6, there are very real and serious security threats pending. The fewer people who are out, the better to ensure law enforcement will be able to have clear information and act decisively.
The District will be providing text alerts on public safety, road closures, weather, and any other urgent information for residents via text message. Text INAUG2021 to 888-777 to opt-in to these updates.
Second, the District has created a centralized website where you can expect information to be added in the coming days:https://inauguration.dc.gov/
Preparation and Deployment of Public Safety Resources
With multiple levels of fencing and 20,000 National Guard troops available, preparations to protect the US Capitol and White House will be much more substantial than what we saw a week ago.
- The District was granted a Pre-Emergency Designation, which began on Wednesday, Jan 13, and runs until Jan 21.
- Up to 20,000 troops from the National Guard are on-call and available for deployment, many of whom are already stationed at the US Capitol.
- The US Secret Service is taking the lead on coordinating security for the US Capitol during the inauguration. The priority for this coordination is the protection of the incoming President and all federal property. This will permit MPD to focus on securing and responding to any crises in local DC neighborhoods.
- MPD will have their entire sworn officer force activated and working 12-hour shifts with one day off until after the inauguration. It is my understanding MPD and the members of the National Guard will be the primary responders to any issues in DC neighborhoods.
- Neighbors have already noticed the US Capitol is surrounded by multiple fence lines that have closed off streets.
- Specifically in Southwest, the SWBID is assisting with the removal of public trash cans and other items. I would expect to see similar measures as the physical space hardening continues in the next few days.
Restricted Area and Street Closures
There are a number of street closures that started this week as a restricted zone around the White House was established. This will impact residents' ability to travel to and through the downtown core and around parts of Capitol Hill. Folks who are traveling for essential in-person activities should be able to enter with identification.
If you have a car parked in a parking facility within the restricted zone, you need to remove it by Friday, January 15, at 6 am or it will have to remain in place until after the inauguration.
Announced Road Closures as of 2 pm, Thursday, January 14, 2021:
- 18th Street at Constitution Avenue NW
- 17th Street at Independence Avenue SW
- 11th Street at Independence Avenue SW
- 12th Street at Independence Avenue SW
- 7th Street at Madison Drive NW
- 7th Street at Jefferson Drive SW
Closures announced by US Capitol Police:
- Independence Avenue between Washington Avenue, SW, and Second Street SE
- Constitution Avenue between First Street NW and Second Street NE
- Massachusetts Avenue between Second Street and Louisiana Avenue, NE
- Louisiana Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue, NE, and Constitution Avenue, NW
- D Street between Louisiana and New Jersey Avenues, NW
- New Jersey Avenue between D Street and Louisiana Avenue, NW
- C Street between First Street and Louisiana Avenue, NW
- First Street between C Street and Louisiana Avenue, NW
- Constitution Avenue between Second Street, NW, and Second Street, NE
- Third Street between Constitution Avenue, NW, and Independence Avenue, SW
- I-395 Exit at Second and C Streets, SW
- Independence Avenue between Third Street, SW, and Second Street, SE
- Independence Avenue between Third Street, SW, and Second Street, SE
- Washington Avenue between Independence Avenue and D Street, SW
- Second Street between C Street, SE, and Massachusetts Avenue, NE
The Post has a good round-up of the planned closures around both the White House and the US Capitol: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2021/01/12/dc-inauguration-road-closures/
MPD Text Tip Alert Line
If you would like to be sure your local MPD District Station is aware of something you've witnessed or found, you can use the MPD tip line by texting 50-411. These tips, when location is provided, are sent to the local on-duty Watch Commander. Learn more here: https://mpdc.dc.gov/service/text-police-50411#:~:text=Give%205%2D0%20the%20411,any%20incident%2C%20please%20call%20911.
Airbnb and Permits for Demonstrations
Over the weekend, I started a dialogue with Airbnb about doing everything they could to prevent white nationalists and anyone associated with a hate group from using their site to book a rental in the region. On Wednesday, the company announced it was taking matters further and cancelling all bookings in the region for next week through January 21. Here's the announcement:https://news.airbnb.com/airbnb-to-block-and-cancel-d-c-reservations-during-inauguration/
Finally, just to be clear: the District has not approved any permits for public demonstrations or gatherings around the inauguration. As you may know, the District does not control whether the National Park Service or other federal entities issue permits for any demonstrations. The Mayor has requested that any and all permits around the inauguration be rescinded, but I don't have more information on that front as of now.
Modifications to WMATA Service
During this time, trains will pass through the closed stations without stopping. Beginning on Friday and continuing for six days, trains will operate on a Saturday schedule (every 12 minutes on the Red Line/15 minutes on all other lines), bypassing all closed stations while residents are urged by local officials to stay out of the downtown area.
In addition, 26 bus routes will be detoured around the expanded security perimeter beginning on Friday through Thursday. Metrobus will operate normal service on weekdays and weekends to accommodate customers making trips outside the zone, with the exception of January 20, when buses will operate on a Saturday schedule.