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Bridges into D.C. Being Closed as Troop Levels in Capital City Surge Even Higher

Amid fears and rumors, Washington, D.C. will be filled with troops and not spectators as Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden nears.

Virginia will be limiting access into the capital by closing some interstates and bridges, according to WAVY-TV.

Meanwhile, troops will pour into Washington, with about 25,000 National Guard members being deployed, according to Stars and Stripes.

Earlier reports had said about 20,000 troops were going to be deployed, a level already above the current number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The Interstate 66 and Interstate 395 bridges will be closed from 6 a.m. Tuesday, through 6 a.m., Thursday. The National Park Service is closing the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

A joint statement from Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton said the closings were necessary.

“The 2021 Presidential Inauguration Ceremony will see the strongest Capital-area security response in history. We worked together to push for a response that balances protecting public safety in a manner commensurate with available intelligence about threats without going too far.

“It is very important now that the U.S. Secret Service and its partner agencies communicate road and bridge closures swiftly and clearly in order to keep disruptions to a minimum. All of us want the transfer of power to be as peaceful as possible, and we thank all of the men and women in uniform helping to make this historic occasion safe,” they said in a statement.

Northam had joined with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan saying that Americans should not throng to D.C. as is customary for an inauguration.

“Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including last week’s violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C.,” they said in a joint statement, according to the Washingtonian.

Officials have also closed the National Mall, the prime place Americans gathered for the inauguration, according to USA Today.

The New York Times reported that federal officials fear domestic extremists may be a threat.

Extremists “remain a concern due to their ability to act with little to no warning, willingness to attack civilians and soft targets, and ability to inflict significant casualties with weapons that do not require specialized knowledge,” the Times said federal officials wrote in a document it obtained.

The Times also reported that fears are increasing based on a reported increase in the number of checked weapons being tracked coming into Virginia airports.

Ken Cuccinelli, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, said officials have not identified credible and specific threats.

“We certainly agree there’s a good deal of online chatter. It isn’t just about Washington, by the way. There’s also conversations about state capitals but very unspecific,” Cuccinelli said, according to CNN. “It’s that higher level of tension that we focus on.”

President Donald Trump has urged his supporters to avoid any violence.

“Now I am asking everyone who has ever believed in our agenda to be thinking of ways to ease tensions, calm tempers, and help to promote peace in our country. There has been reporting that additional demonstrations are being planned in the coming days, both here in Washington and across the country. I have been briefed by the US Secret Service on the potential threats,” Trump said in a Thursday video message.

“Every American deserves to have their voice heard in a respectful and peaceful way. That is your First Amendment Right. But I cannot emphasize that there must be no violence, no law breaking and no vandalism of any kind,” he said.

Story cited here.

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