Media barred from bringing bulletproof vests, gas masks and helmets to inauguration
U.S. Capitol Police is informing media outlets that reporters will not be allowed to bring bulletproof vests, gas masks or helmets to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, amid heightened concerns about violence following an attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
Reporters will not be allowed to bring this kind of protective equipment through any screening checkpoint around the Capitol’s extensive security perimeter, which stretches several blocks beyond the Capitol complex itself in all directions.
The Capitol Police sent out to the guidance after a few reporters looked at possibly gearing up before Wednesday’s ceremony, in case there’s more violence.
The Capitol campus has begun to resemble a military base in a combat zone, with more than 21,000 National Guardsmen deployed around Washington ahead of Biden’s inauguration.
Hundreds of Guardsmen in combat fatigues, carrying packs and assault rifles, have been deployed behind tall fencing topped with razor wire set up around the historic Capitol building and the Senate and House office buildings.
The heavily-armed units are also backing up U.S. Capitol Police officers at the relatively few pedestrian and vehicular entrances around the Capitol campus.
The cafeteria on the basement level of the Dirksen Senate Office Building has been turned into a specially authorized break area for troops, with scores of them lined up against the walls, resting or taking naps. An area that used to be filled with staff and visitors hustling through to grab a quick bite or coffee now looks like below the deck of a troop transport ship.
Former Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who was in the Capitol on Tuesday, called the huge troop presence “overkill” as he headed to get a COVID-19 test before Tuesday’s inauguration.
He said the scene was “unlike anything I’ve seen” during his 24 years in the House.