WASHINGTON — Next week hundreds of thousands of people will be in town to witness the inauguration of the nation’s 45th president. Police are promising a peaceful transfer of power, but some demonstrators are threatening to cause trouble.
Anarchist groups in New York, Chicago and Seattle are among those who have signed an online pledge to try to disrupt the Jan. 20 inaugural ceremony and parade.
“You will not be able to move around those areas and get close to interrupt things,” said Gary Byrne, a former U.S. Secret Service officer who worked prior inaugural security and was in Seattle in 1999 when anarchists mounted violent protests against the World Trade Organization.
Byrne has also written about his time as a White House Secret Service officer during President Bill Clinton’s presidency in his book “Crisis of Character.”
Byrne said that metal detectors would be deployed at various entry points to inaugural festivities, barring anyone from carrying anything dangerous inside the secured zone.
D.C. interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said police were aware of the online threats and were ready and able to handle them. Newsham has promised a peaceful transfer of power on Inauguration Day.
“I expect there will be some anarchists there, some protestors, that will become physical, and they will get arrested,” Byrne said.
“They actually get training in countering police rioting tactics,” he said.
More than 30 groups have applied for permits to protest at next week’s inauguration, and Byrne predicted that almost all the demonstrations would be peaceful.
“It’s all about the troublemakers. If they show up to make trouble they will be arrested,” said Byrne.