Today we celebrate and remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Under normal circumstances, it would be a National Day of Service where many of us would gather together to pitch in to improve our city, but that looks a lot different this year for a variety of reasons.
On this Dr. King weekend, I spent the days in close communication, working with, and receiving regular confidential briefings with the leadership tasked with keeping the District safe through the upcoming Inauguration. But I couldn't help recognize the a connection - that in this public safety update around the smooth transfer of power, under threat, there's never been a more important reminder that we have much work to do in continuing Dr. King's mission.
Long before there was a mob leading an insurrection at the US Capitol, we knew that the chief source of their rage was not truly rooted in a baseless claims of election fraud. It was in power - preserving existing power structures that have given enormous historical advantages to some people, but not others, especially white people. While being at risk of oversimplifying the ministry and life's work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, we are living in a moment of history when it should be painfully clear how far we have yet to go - and how resistant large swaths of white America are - to taking meaningful steps to healing generations of inequality and racism.
This, I believe, is principally why we find ourselves living in a militarized zone this week. It is frustrating for us, and terribly sad for all of America. My chief hope rests that Dr. King was correct when he said “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” But the arc doesn't bend on it's own. It is a result of each of us applying pressure - individually and collectively - to build a more just life for ourselves and more importantly, for everyone around us. I know we can meet that challenge, this year more than most.
As a quick note, there's an update on vaccines at the bottom of this email.
Update on Preparation and Deployment of Public Safety Resources
Since I last wrote, I've sat in several briefings covering threats, risk, and preparation to counter both. On Sunday, I spent several hours with the National Guard and regional law enforcement to hear their plans and ask questions of how we operationalize these efforts to ensure safety in our city and the neighborhoods closest to the Capitol, White House, and federal district. While I cannot share many of the details, I can share a few updates relevant to Ward 6:
- By the end of the day, nearly 25,000 National Guard troops will be deployed within the District.
- National Guard members will be deployed both to secure the Capitol Complex, but also to assist in the neighborhoods near federal sites in close collaboration with MPD.
- You should expect to see National Guard troops deployed in some of our neighborhood parks, as well as at the Metro stations that remain open during the events.
- I have commitments from both National Guard and MPD leadership that residents within the "green zone" on the Secret Service map will not have to present ID to come and go from their homes. I've received a few reports of this taking place, and if it happens to you, please let me know.
- MPD has been keenly aware of concerns around any potential for violence spilling into the surrounding neighborhoods. I cannot share any tactical details but I can share that I believe they are very aware of potential threats, taking available precautions, and treating this with the seriousness you would want.
Restricted Area and Street Closures
Over the weekend, the US Secret Service published a map with updated road closures and other important information. You can find all of that information here: https://www.secretservice.gov/protection/inauguration Please be aware that these decisions are made by the Secret Service, and can change quickly - stay informed with the resources below.
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/
MPD Text Tip Alert Line
A lot of people have reached out to me concerned that they've seen something suspicious - for example an out-of-state truck with concerning militia decals or someone taking video of security features near the Capitol. One way to directly report something like this is to send an email to [email protected] 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.
Note on Vaccines
Over the weekend, I heard from many Ward 6 residents confused over an email from the Department of Health that created confusion about the process for distributing vaccines. I wrote a Facebook post here that should answer any questions you have: https://www.facebook.com/CMcharlesallen/posts/3491228600972573
The important part to keep in mind is that the Department of Health will continue to release appointments weekly to be vaccinated for residents in all 8 wards while also taking steps hopefully to ensure equal distribution for residents who might not be as tech savvy or plugged in. They will be releasing another 1,436 appointments today, January 18, at 9 am. If you are 65 years or older, you are eligible to receive a vaccine. Just please bear in mind there is far more demand right now for a vaccine than actual vaccine doses. So please stay patient and communicate with my team if you are experiencing issues. You can call 855-363-0333 or try to schedule online. Link to vaccine portal: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/vaccinatedc
There is also an option on that page to sign-up to receive alerts for when new appointments become available. Please note: this is not a waiting list! Until you receive a date, time, and location for your vaccine, you do not have a reservation.
Thanks Ward 6, stay safe.