Officials Brief Hill Residents on Inaugural Security, Safety, and Protests
by Larry Janezich
Last night, officials from MPD, US Capitol Police, DC Homeland Security, and DOT briefed some 25 Capitol Hill residents on security, safety, and protests for the January 20 Inaugural Ceremony. The meeting was organized by ANC6B Commissioners Jennifer Samolyk and Diane Hoskins.
MPD Commander Keith DeVille, Special Operations Division, Inaugural Events for DC, provided an overall view of the plans, many details of which will be made public by the Secret Service in early January on the official website found here: http://inauguration.dc.gov.
Here’s what we know so far: Capitol Hill residents will feel the impact of the Inaugural in several ways over three days, January 19, 20, and 21.
Road closures – Starting early on January 19, streets around the Capitol and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, streets will be closed to vehicular traffic as the “hard” security perimeter is “built out.” The “build out” involves erecting barriers, removal of street lights, and welding shut of manhole covers. The “hard” perimeter on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, will be staffed by 3300 police officers from around the country, who will focus on crowd control, freeing up MPD to concentrate on the rest of the city. Regarding schools within the perimeter, parents will be allowed to pick up children and school buses will run.
Metro – Opens at 400am on January 20 and closes at midnight. Eastern Market, Union Station, and Stadium Armory Metro stops will not be affected by the security measures but MPD will have a police presence.
RFK bus parking – Buses bringing people to the Inaugural will be parked at RFK which can accommodate 1300 buses. A much small number have reserved spaces so far, but DDOT says it’s still early. Passengers will off-load and walk to the Capitol Grounds (ticketed access), the National Mall (un-ticketed access), or the parade route (ticketed and un-ticketed) west on East Capitol to Lincoln Park, where they will divide into north and south routes depending on their destination. DDOT will provide ADA resources to ferry individuals who need transportation.
Groups exercising their First Amendment rights – MPD is tracking 77 social media threads concerning potential Inaugural demonstrations by both supporters and opponents of the new administration. Fifteen permits have been issued for demonstrations over the three days, including one at Freedom Plaza for Act Now, one at Meridian Hill Park for Real Progressives, and one for the National Women’s March on Washington which will start at 3rd and Independence, SW, proceed to 14th Street, and then north to the Ellipse where it will disperse. See WaPo article here: http://wapo.st/2h7ld7U
35 platoons, each comprised of 33 civil disturbance officers, will be assigned to crowd management and to respond to civil disturbances on January 19, 20, and 21. Attendees for the ceremony at the US Capitol and the parade route will go through magnetometers; coolers and large backpacks will be prohibited. Regarding the mall and the parade route, signs will be allowed, but not sticks for signs.
Anti-terrorism measures – MPD is not aware of any specific threat regarding the Inaugural. Multiple table top exercises to deal with potential threats have been conducted by several agencies involved in Inaugural security and MPD will have a “high security posture.” There are measures in place to deal with drone attacks – and for truck attacks similar to the most recent one at a Christmas Market in Berlin.
DeVille advises: “My suggestion is, if you don’t have a reason to go down there, don’t. Stay home and watch it on TV and trust we are doing everything we can to ensure safety.”
Participants included: Commander Morgan Kane, DC MPD First District; Chris Geldart, Director, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency; Suzette Robinson, COO, DC Department of Transportation; Mark Beach, Assistant Patrol District Commander, DC MPD First District; Eric Belknap, Commander, US Capitol Police; and Commander Keith DeVille, MPD Special Operations Division, Inaugural Events for DC.
Geldart will provide a brief update on new information at the full ANC6B meeting at 7:00pm on January 10, in Hill Center.