Police Threaten Force If Fence Is Scaled: Inaugural Update
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Capitol Police say anyone attempting to climb the temporary fence around the Capitol will be met with force. Vice President Mike Pence praised law enforcement’s “aggressive” response to the Capitol siege. Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. are barring checked firearms on flights into Washington through the Jan. 20 inauguration, except for law enforcement officers.
There are six days until Biden’s inauguration.
Police Threaten to Use Force on Fence-Climbers at Capitol (5:45 p.m.)
U.S. Capitol Police issued a warning on Thursday saying anyone attempting to climb the 7 foot temporary fence recently erected around the capitol complex would be met with “appropriate use of force.”
The enhanced security measures were made public in a statement authorized by Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman, which noted the Capitol grounds would be closed to the public on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. The statement also said Capitol Police were coordinating with National Guard troops stationed within the complex as well as other authorities.
“Anyone attempting to unlawfully gain access to the Capitol grounds by climbing a fence or any other unlawful means will be subject to an appropriate use of force and arrest,” according to the statement. -- Tom Schoenberg
Pence Praises ‘Aggressive’ Response to Capitol Siege (5:17 p.m.)
Vice President Mike Pence praised FBI Director Christopher Wray for the “aggressive posture” law enforcement has taken to go after rioters involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Pence, who was evacuated to a secure area after the Capitol was breached during the riot, said at an event alongside Wray that Americans could be confident that the Trump administration is doing everything it could to ensure “an orderly transition and safe inauguration.”
The FBI has identified over 200 suspects related to last week’s riot at the Capitol and has arrested more than 100 people in conjunction with law enforcement partners, Wray said.
He added that the bureau was “concerned about the potential for violence” at next Wednesday’s inauguration and was monitoring Internet chatter about potential armed protests in Washington and at state capitols across the country.
The federal response to the storming of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump should serve as a “very stern warning” to those considering violence during the inauguration, the FBI leader said. -- Justin Sink
Alaska Air Wants You Seated on D.C. Flights (4:04 pm)
Alaska Air Group Inc. will require passengers to remain seated an hour after takeoff and an hour before arrival on flights into the three Washington-area airports as part of enhanced security measures ahead of the U.S. presidential inauguration.
Alaska is also limiting ticket sales on its flights to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Reagan National and Dulles International airports “to support law enforcement’s calls to avoid travel to the area,” the carrier said Thursday in a statement.
The rules, which take effect Friday, affect Alaska’s 31 weekly flights to those airports. They will remain in effect “as long as needed,” an Alaska spokeswoman said.
Alaska will also prohibit firearms as checked luggage, following a similar measure introduced by Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. American Airlines Group Inc. will suspend alcohol sales from Jan. 16-20 on flights to and from Washington-area airports.
Seattle-based Alaska said it also plans to staff a “command center” to monitor all parts of flights to the Washington region “to ensure compliance and allow us to quickly respond to and resolve any incidents.” --Justin Bachman
Delta, United Ban Checked Firearms on D.C. Flights (4:07 p.m.)
Delta and United won’t allow passengers flying into any of the Washington-area airports to check a firearm starting this weekend as part of extra security steps leading to the inauguration.
Delta’s ban, which excludes law enforcement officers authorized to carry a gun, will extend through next week, Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian told CNBC Thursday. United said active-duty military personnel flying under orders can also check firearms. The airlines have also increased security in Washington airports.
“We are working closely with the TSA, FAA, law enforcement agencies, our intelligence agencies and sources to understand the threat levels,” Bastian said in a Bloomberg News interview. “Obviously it’s on a higher alert than normal. We’re working very closely on both seen and unseen security measures.”
American Airlines Group Inc. is suspending the sale of alcoholic beverages on flights to and from Washington airports Jan. 16 through 20. The carrier implemented a similar ban, which affects only premium seats, after the attack on the Capitol. The carrier has also moved flight crews to hotels outside of the downtown area and increased staff at airports. --Mary Schlangenstein & Justin Bachman
BLM Calls For Washington Hotels to Shut Down (12:54 p.m.)
Black Lives Matter D.C. and ShutDown D.C. are calling on hotels in the Capitol area to close beginning Friday and lasting through Jan. 21, a day after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
If the hotels do not opt to close, the groups will ask D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to extend the emergency order and force them to do so.
The activists urged hotels to pay workers even if they close.
”White supremacists are not welcome in D.C. Let me be clear: White supremacists are not welcome here in D.C.,” activist Neenee Taylor said Thursday at a Washington media event. “To be clear they came Nov. 14, Dec. 12 and then Jan. 6 and these hotels hosted them.”
Airbnb announced it would cancel all reservations in the D.C. area during Inauguration week and block any new reservations from being booked. The company also said it would ban people either associated with hate groups or who were involved in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
National Guard Troops Won’t All Be Armed (11:35 a.m.)
Not all of the roughly 20,000 National Guard troops deploying in Washington, D.C. to bolster security at next week’s inauguration will be armed.
About 3,000 troops will be armed and issued ammunition, which could be live rounds or rubber bullets. Those armed must be current military police or have experience working in civilian law enforcement, according to a defense official. They must also be currently qualified in self-defense techniques to prevent being disarmed, according to the official.
Most of the armed troops are expected to be stationed at the U.S. Capitol, site of both last week’s riots by protesters supporting President Donald Trump and the main venue for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. But troops will also be dispersed around downtown Washington at key locations. -- Tony Capaccio
FBI Warns Capitol Riot May Fuel Future Attacks (10:46 a.m.)
A bulletin issued yesterday by the FBI and other agencies warned that extremists targeting the inauguration may exploit the aftermath of the Capitol breach by conducting attacks to destabilize and force a larger conflict in the U.S., according to a person familiar with it.
The bulletin issued on Wednesday to law enforcement agencies across the country also warned the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol will be a “significant driver of violence,” the person said. The bulletin was reported earlier by the New York Times. -- Chris Strohm
Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez to Perform at Biden Inauguration
Despite being pared down by the coronavirus and security concerns, Biden’s inauguration will feature some marquee entertainment.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Thursday that Lady Gaga would sing the national anthem at the ceremony. Lopez will also perform a musical number. Leo O’Donovan, a Jesuit priest who served as president of Georgetown University and is a friend of Biden’s, will offer the invocation.
Committee CEO Tony Allen said the participants “represent one clear picture of the grand diversity of our great nation and will help honor and celebrate the time-honored traditions of the presidential inauguration as President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris take the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.”
Inaugurations traditionally draw crowds of hundreds of thousands of supporters to the National Mall and feature days of parties and balls. All of those events have been canceled and Biden backers have been told to stay home due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Also, the ceremony will be taking place under tight security after rioters stormed the Capitol last week in a rampage that left five dead, including a police officer.
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