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National Mall Will Reportedly Be Shut Down Completely on Inauguration Day

© AP Photo / Manuel Balce CenetaThe US Capitol dome
The US Capitol dome - Sputnik International
The iconic 309 acre territory – stretching from the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument to the Capitol Complex, has traditionally been associated with large-scale public gatherings on Inauguration Day, with supporters of newly-elected presidents flocking to the nation’s capital in the hundreds of thousands to celebrate.

The entire National Mall complex will be closed off to the public, and be accessible only to media and personnel tasked with ensuring security, the Washington Post and NBC News reported Thursday, citing anonymous officials said to be familiar with the matter.

In a statement to The Hill on Thursday, the National Park Service indicated that no final decision had been made on closing the Mall for Inauguration Day, and that a formal announcement would be made when such a decision was reached.

The reported plans to close the National Mall come amid the tightened security situation in Washington, DC in the aftermath of last Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol by angry Trump supporters accusing Democrats of ‘stealing’ the election.

Earlier Thursday, CNN reported that President-elect Joe Biden had scrapped plans to take an Amtrak train from his Wilmington, Delaware compound to Washington, DC’s Union Station amid intensified security concerns.

Before that, the New York Times reported that FBI Director Christopher Wray and acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Kenneth Cucinelli had warned police chiefs in major US cities to be on high alert and to “overshare intelligence” amid concerns about the likelihood of “extremist violence” ahead of the inauguration.

On Tuesday, Metropolitan Police indicated that over 20,000 National Guardsmen and women would be stationed in the District of Columbia to help secure the inauguration.

Rep. Eric Swalwell listens as former White House national security aide Fiona Hill, and David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, 21 November 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. - Sputnik International
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President Trump approved an emergency declaration in the capital on Monday ahead of the 20 January inauguration, with the alert to remain in place through 24 January to protect “property and public health and safety” in the city and to “lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.”

Trump has repeatedly denounced the Capitol rioters and expressed his willingness to hand over power. Democrats have accused him of “inciting” the insurrection, and impeached him on Wednesday.

Last week’s violence, which left four protesters and a police officer dead, came in the wake of a bitter election contest in November. Trump loyalists accused Biden and the Democrats of “stealing” the election using a combination of mail-in vote fraud, voting machine machinations and other illegal acts. Their claims have not stood up in any US court. Democrats, meanwhile, allege that it was the Trump supporters who burst into the capital who tried to carry out a “coup d’etat” against the legitimately elected government.

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