As Washington locks down for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Delta Air Lines on Thursday imposed new restrictions on passengers in the U.S. capital amid warnings of possible political violence across the country, even after the January 20.
Hotels, airlines and other businesses have stepped up security as authorities plan to deploy at least 20,000 National Guard troops to the city. Activist groups concerned about the potential for violence have called on hotels to close this weekend ahead of the event.
Delta will not allow travelers to Washington-area airports to check for firearms on its flights prior to the inauguration, Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said Thursday.
“We are all on high alert based on the events of the past two weeks in Washington,” Bastian told TBEN. He told Reuters his airline had placed passengers on a no-fly list for their involvement in disruptive incidents that, for example, targeted Republican U.S. Senator Mitt Romney.
The actions follow the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump and disruption to flights and airports. Officials have warned of plans for armed protests in Washington and all 50 states.
Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to speak on Thursday at an inauguration security briefing. This will be his first public appearance since the January 6 attack.
In Washington, the perimeter of a high fence surrounding the Capitol has been extended to encompass the United States Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.
Roads nearby have been closed, some companies have said they will close next week and the city’s transit agency has said it is closing some metro stations and redirecting bus lines from Friday to 21 January.
The National Park Service said a decision has yet to be made on closing the National Mall connecting the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. The park service has closed the Washington Monument to tours and Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked visitors to stay away from the city.
Law enforcement officials have warned of potential violence beyond the US capital. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that downtown Columbus state headquarters and office buildings would be closed Sunday through Wednesday.
BEYOND THE INAUGURATION
Mary McCord, head of the Justice Department’s national security division under former President Barack Obama, warned the threat could linger well beyond the inauguration.
“You will see a resurgence of activity and planning and threats from extremists. So I don’t think this problem will go away with the departure of this President from the White House,” McCord said.
The US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach Trump for incitement to hatred after his supporters rampaged on the Capitol, killing five, following a speech by the Republican president reiterating his false claim that Biden, a Democrat, had beaten him because of widespread fraud. .
Federal authorities have arrested dozens of people as part of their investigation into the assault on Capitol Hill. A congressional official said the Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate law enforcement’s handling of intelligence leading up to the attack once Democrats take control of the Senate.
More than 30 House Democrats, including lawmaker Mikie Sherrill, have asked the acting House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the acting Capitol Police chief for visitor logs, videos and other information on who was in the building that day.
Sherrill, who accused Republicans of inciting the pro-Trump mob, said she saw colleagues leading groups on “reconnaissance” visits to Capitol Hill the day before the Jan.6 attack.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)