National Mall sealed off through Biden’s inauguration Jan 17, 2021 0 506 12345 dpaWashingtonThe National Mall will be closed off to the public and thousands of heavily armed soldiers are expected to patrol the streets around the US Capitol when Joe Biden is sworn in next week, federal law enforcement officials said on Friday, as the nation continues to reel from political violence and the worst public health crisis in modern history.The heightened security precautions surrounding Biden’s Wednesday inauguration come in response to the ever-worsening coronavirus pandemic - which is killing thousands of Americans every day - and the deadly attack on the Capitol that President Donald Trump incited last week.“We cannot allow a recurrence of the chaos and illegal activity that the United States and the world witnessed last week,” Secret Service Special Agent-in-Charge Matt Miller, whose agency is leading security operations for the inauguration, said at a press briefing with Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Our democracy is built on the rule of law, and the Secret Service workforce is dedicated and committed to uphold its oath to the Constitution.” The National Mall, which is usually flooded with supporters of the incoming president during inaugural festivities, will be sealed off at least through January 21, National Park Service Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said at the same briefing. The National Mall shutdown took effect at 11 a.m. on Friday, he added.With the mall shuttered, Reinbold said law enforcement agencies have identified two “First Amendment areas” near Capitol Hill, where protesters can gather if they want.However, Reinbold stressed that any protesters who show up to picket Biden’s inauguration will have to go through magnetometers to make sure they aren’t bringing guns or other weapons.The FBI has warned that fired up far-right groups are plotting more “armed protests” at the US Capitol and other government buildings across the country in the lead-up to Biden’s inauguration.It’s unclear how sizeable any such demonstrations will be, but Miller said federal law enforcement brass aren’t taking any chances.“They are actively investigating and talking with a number of extremist groups, searching the internet and social media for any indication they can get,” Miller said, referring to the FBI. “There’s a great deal of concerning chatter and it’s what you don’t know that we’re preparing for. I don’t know if anyone has raised their hand to say, ‘We are coming, we will be there.’ We are preparing as if they are.” More than 20,000 National Guard troops, many armed with M4 assault rifles, are expected to be in Washington by Wednesday’s inauguration.Steel barriers have been erected all across Capitol Hill, with parts of Washington looking like a city at war.Images of the militarized security measures will leave a dark stain on the presidential legacy of Trump, who incited last Wednesday’s attack by telling thousands of his supporters to march on the Capitol and “fight like hell” to stop the congressional certification of Biden’s election. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the ensuing siege, while Trump watched the chaos on TV from the White House, initially refusing to condemn the violence.Trump was impeached for an unprecedented second time on Wednesday for sparking the chilling assault on democracy. He’s set to be put on trial in the Senate later this month, with the possibility that the chamber could vote to bar him from ever holding public office again.Despite bipartisan pushback, Trump has not apologized for instigating last week’s riot, which marked the first invasion of the Capitol since British soldiers burned the building in 1814. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Snowstorm leaves 5,000 homes in French Alsace region without power Jan 17, 2021 0 333 Biden to mount federal vaccination campaign for Americans Jan 17, 2021 0 36 Hong Kong government calls latest US sanctions ‘insane and shameful’ Jan 17, 2021 0 55 No direct evidence of kidnapping plot at Capitol: US attorney dpa Washington The US Attorney for the District of Columbia said on Friday that there is no direct evidence of “kill/capture teams” attempting to kidnap lawmakers during riots at the US Capitol. Attorney Michael .. 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