Supporters in DC React to Biden’s Inauguration Amid Heavy Security

Supporters in DC React to Biden’s Inauguration Amid Heavy Security
Guests and spectators attend the inauguration of President Joe Biden at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2021. (Susan Walsh/Getty Images)
Bowen Xiao

WASHINGTON—As Joe Biden took the oath to serve as the 46th president of the United States, some of his supporters showed up at the U.S. Capitol to celebrate in person, despite the area being highly militarized and fortified.

There were multiple layers of fencing around the Capitol and the White House, as well as security checkpoints. Authorities said they were worried about a repeat of the violence and unrest during the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

The Capitol area in Washington appeared largely abandoned, with small groups of supporters gathering along the surrounding streets. In one section, a local bar played Biden's inaugural speech live as a small crowd of supporters and media stopped to listen.

"I’m extremely excited to be at least part of something small," Nicole Lee told The Epoch Times. "It’s a huge thing, but I don’t get to be there [inside]."

Lee, who came out with her family to show support for Biden, said she felt the heavy military presence was a bit overboard but noted that authorities "had to make a statement."

"It sucks, but for the safety of everybody to enjoy some small part of it, I’m for it," she said.

An estimated 25,000 members of the National Guard came from all 50 states to be stationed at the Capitol. The number of Guard troops mobilized in Washington far exceeds the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which have been reduced to 2,500. The troops were authorized to use lethal force in support of law enforcement in the Capitol and city.

In the days leading up to the inauguration, roads were barricaded, stores were boarded up, and military vehicles were seen throughout the area. The Capitol building itself was surrounded by high fencing with barbed wire.

"I didn’t escape my country for this, it’s like a war zone," a longtime D.C. resident originally from Vietnam said.

One Biden supporter who showed up in person said he had to walk all the way from a far corner of Washington near Maryland in order to get to the Capitol.

"It’s a militarized zone for miles," Richie Abel told The Epoch Times.

Abel described the mood on Inauguration Day and the days leading up to it as solemn.

"All week its been sort of the calm before the storm, but it seems like the storm isn’t going to come," he said. "I haven’t seen any large-scale violence or anything."

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Jan. 15 that even after the presidential inauguration, the city would have to maintain heightened security. When asked if the extensive security measures around the city would be reversed after the inauguration, Bowser said, “We are going to go back to a new normal.”

Some said the military presence wouldn't impact anything.

"I’m fine with all that," said Rebecca, who declined to give her last name. "That isn’t going to take away from the fact that we have a woman who is in the highest leadership position ever."

Travel around the city or access to the Capitol is difficult. The Metro announced that it would close 13 stations inside the security perimeter. And the National Mall stated it would implement a temporary public closure beginning at 11 a.m. on Jan. 15 through at least Jan. 21, at the request of and in cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service.
As Biden's speech was playing live, one person on the street held up a sign that read: "This looks like Pyongyang, there are only police and military. No civilians."
Bowen Xiao was a New York-based reporter at The Epoch Times. He covers national security, human trafficking and U.S. politics.
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