In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, tensions are high and many are concerned that the events on January 6 are a sign of what’s to come later this month when president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. Already, there are discussions on far-right forums of demonstrations and possible violence in the days leading up to January 20. And it's not just in Washington D.C.: according to an FBI bulletin warning, armed protests are being planned in all 50 state capitols. With all of this risk and unrest, not to mention a pandemic that is setting record daily death toll numbers, many are now pleading for an all-virtual inauguration.
Twitter has been flooded with requests from citizens and government officials alike to reexamine inauguration plans. Some are petitioning for no in-person events as a means of protecting everyone causing the hashtag #virtualinauguration to begin trending. Others, like Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser are simply asking for increased caution.
Over the weekend, Bowser strongly encouraged the Department of Homeland Security to rethink its approach to the inauguration. In a tweet, Bowser shared the letter she sent to acting secretary Chad Wolf outlining a host of changes from extending the use of special security to requesting the FBI provide daily intelligence and threat briefings from now through January 24.
In any other election year, thousands of people would gather on the National Mall while the new president takes the oath of office, followed by a parade with thousands of military personnel. Then, an annual inaugural ball would take place. But not this year. Biden intends to start his inauguration day by taking the train from his home in Wilmington, DE to Washington D.C., CNN reports. He will still take the oath at the Capitol, but he will instead be accompanied by socially distanced members of the military. And in place of a traditional parade, there is supposed to be a virtual one, with performances from communities across the country.
The planned events will be televised as officials continue to discourage people from traveling to D.C. for the event. In keeping with tradition, former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton will join Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris at the Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after they are sworn in.
But this is all, currently, just a plan, which could change at any moment. Biden is still being asked whether he could further scale back inauguration plans after Trump supporters, spurred on by the words of the outgoing president, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes to name Biden as the next president. On Monday night, Capitol Police briefed Democrats on three potentially violent plots planned in the coming days. One includes a plan to encircle the Capitol with talk of assassinating Democrats and some Republicans.
According to Vox, Biden believes the show must go on. “I am not concerned with my safety, security, or the inauguration,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m not concerned. The American people are going to stand up, stand up now. Enough is enough is enough.”