Mayor Murial Bowser said the “special Inauguration Day alerts” will provide residents with updates on public safety, street closures and transit updates “and more.”
Bowser said her plea to residents is coupled with a request for residents to “only participate in inauguration events virtually.”
Tensions remain high in Washington after thousands of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol last week, forcing lawmakers who were certifying Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory into hiding in a harrowing assault on the heart of American democracy that left five dead.
The violence came after Trump urged supporters to march on the Capitol at a rally where he repeated false claims that his resounding defeat in the Nov. 3 election was illegitimate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many of her fellow Democrats and a handful of Republicans say the Republican president should not be trusted to serve out his term, which ends on Jan. 20 — Inauguration Day.
The alert system is one of a number of measures D.C. is taking ahead of Biden’s inauguration as safety concerns mount.
Non-scalable fencing was seen going up around Capitol Hill last week, and up to 15,000 members of the National Guard have been authorized to support the event — about 10,000 of those are expected to be in the city by Saturday to help with logistics and communications.
But city officials aren’t convinced what’s been planned so far will be enough.
In a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf made public on Sunday, Bowser called for a fresh approach to security after what she called last week’s “unprecedented terrorist attack.”
In it, Bowser made a number of direct requests to the DHS regarding the historic event, including that the event time-period be extended from Jan. 11 to Jan. 24, instead of its current Jan. 19 to Jan 21. She also requested that the security perimeter on the event grounds be expanded.
The extension would allow local and federal officials to better prepare for Inauguration Day, Bowser wrote.
She also requested that all permits for public gatherings submitted for Jan. 11-24 be cancelled or denied, and that a “pre-disaster declaration” be approved in advance of Jan. 20, to allow for federal assistance.
Bowser said her requests follow “new threats from insurgent acts of domestic terrorists.”
The request is “essential to demonstrating our collective resolve in ensuring the constitutional transfer of power and our nation’s capital,” she wrote.
Residents of Washington, D.C. can sign up for the alerts by texting INAUG2021 to 888-77.
— with files from Reuters