Hundreds of National Guard troops are sleeping on the stone floor of the US Capitol as security intensifies in Washington DC and the capital goes into lockdown a week out from Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The troops, who descended on DC in the wake of last week’s MAGA mob riots, were spotted cradling their weapons as they slept on the floor of the Capitol on Wednesday morning.
Lawmakers entering the building walked by the sleeping troops as they lined the hallways. It is believed to be the first time troops have set up camp in the Capitol since the Civil War.
The National Guard has been authorized to send a total of 20,000 troops to Washington to help safeguard the capital ahead of Biden’s inauguration. There are already 6,200 troops on the ground in DC and at least 10,000 will be in place by Saturday.
The troops, thousands of other law enforcement officers and layers of eight -foot anti-climb steel fencing are among the reinforcements being used to fortify DC a week out from the inauguration in a bid to protect the capital from any violence.
The FBI has already warned of armed protests being planned in Washington and all 50 state capitals in the run-up to the inauguration. Security experts have said chatter among extremists and Trump supporters on social media about threatening violence in DC and other cities has surged in recent days.
On Wednesday, Acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen warned potential domestic terrorists against further attacks.
‘I want to send a clear message to anyone contemplating violence, threats of violence or other criminal conduct: We will have no tolerance whatsoever for any attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power… including attempts to forcefully occupy government buildings,’ Rosen said. ‘There will be no excuse for violence, vandalism or any other form of lawlessness.’
The Secret Service will take control of inauguration security preparations from today and road closures are now in effect across parts the downtown Washington DC area until after the inauguration.
The increased security measures are being implemented days earlier than scheduled as a direct result of last week’s deadly Capitol siege at the hands of Trump-supporting rioters.
Restricted areas have already been established around the White House and Capitol grounds with extra security screenings in place for those trying to get access.