DC Mayor Bowser requests DHS heighten security measures ahead of inauguration

In a letter to Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested several measures to limit the chance that the violence seen at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 repeats itself.

“Following the unprecedented terrorist attacks on the United States Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, and the continued threat of violence in the District of Columbia, we are extremely concerned about the upcoming National Special Security Event (NSSE) led by the United States Secret Service,” Bowser said in her letter.

Bowser said she will be speaking with local, regional and federal agencies in order to “enhance cooperation among our bodies” ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green reported that some groups have already made plans for violent demonstrations in D.C. and at state capitol buildings around the country.

“There are images on social media urging people to go and bring weapons,” he said.

Green also reported that law enforcement sources said that some of the planners of these protests could have military or law enforcement training and would know how to use explosives and plan operations and that the threat could remain for weeks or months after the inauguration.

The first request Bowser made in her letter was an extension of the NSSE period to run from Jan. 11 to Jan. 24. The current period is Jan. 19 to Jan. 21.

The letter says this “will allow for better Federal and District government interagency preparation for the inauguration, given the new threats from insurgent acts of domestic terrorists.”

Bowser said she would also like for DHS to secure the permission of Congress to include the Capitol and its grounds in the NSSE perimeter.

The letter also says that D.C. is putting in a request for a pre-disaster declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Act for the inauguration. This would allow for expedited federal assistance during the preparation for Inauguration Day. Bowser said her administration would work with FEMA to execute the city’s requests upon the declaration’s approval.

Bowser also asked DHS to coordinate with the Department of Justice, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court to create a plan for the defense of federal property so that D.C. police are better able to focus on the city’s eight wards.

The letter also requests that Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen direct the FBI to provide intel and threat briefings from Jan. 11 to Jan. 24, to D.C. Homeland Security and the Emergency Management Agency, D.C. police and all law enforcement agencies operating in D.C.

Finally, Bowser requested that Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt cancel all Public Gathering Permits in D.C. for the requested NSSE period and deny any that come in.

After hearing President Donald Trump repeat his baseless claims that the election was stolen from him, rioters broke into the Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers were voting to certify Biden’s victory. Five died, including a Capitol Police officer. Trump has not taken responsibility for his actions, and the House is considering possible impeachment.

D.C. does not have jurisdiction over the Capitol and other federal property within its borders.

During Wednesday’s rioting, insurrectionists carrying Trump’s false message about the election pushed past Capitol Police to gain access to the Capitol. Members of Congress have called for an investigation, and the chief of the Capitol Police and the Sergeants at Arms of the House and the Senate have been ousted.

There was no widespread fraud in the election, a fact that has been confirmed by state officials across the country, as well as by Attorney General William Barr. Nearly all of the legal challenges put forth by Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges. The Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices, has also denied requests to hear a pair of cases aimed at invalidating the outcome of the election in key battleground states.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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