As Washington prepares for over 250,000 protestors at Friday’s presidential inauguration, the city will undergo tighter security than it has seen in recent memory.
Law enforcement officials are projecting roughly 900,000 to attend the event, both detractors and supporters, as President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in as Commander in Chief of the United States.
Trump advocates tend to admire his purported successes in real estate, reality television and other business ventures, and view him as a departure from politics as usual.
Security will be especially tight at the six checkpoint used by people with tickets to the inaugural ceremony, as officials published a list of 40 banned items, including selfie sticks, balloons, backpacks and drums.
Protesters from around the country will demonstrate against the controversial billionaire’s comments about Muslims, immigrants, repealing the Affordable Care Act and his pledge to build a wall cordoning off Mexico.
Jeh Johnson, outgoing Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, told MSNBC on Thursday that officers hope to avoid conflict by keeping the two camps separated.
Johnson said, “The concern is some of these groups are pro-Trump, some of them are con-Trump, and they may not play well together in the same space.”
About 100 blocks comprising 2.7 square miles of central Washington will be sectioned off by miles of barricades, fencing, roadblocks and roughly 28,000 security personnel from the US Secret Service, Capitol Police, the National Guard, FBI, Transportation Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and the US Park Police.
Organizers from about 30 groups are claiming that roughly 270,000 Trump supporters and protesters have received permits to stage demonstrations and rallies before, throughout and following swearing-in ceremonies.
The DisruptJ20 protest group has plans to block access to the National Mall where activities will be taking place and demonstrating at each of the 12 security checkpoints.
On Saturday, the Women’s March on Washington is expected to be the largest protest, with 250,000 people expected to attend. Related protests will take place across the US, and around the world as well.
In New York, one of Thursday’s anti-Trump protests will gather outside of Trump International Hotel and Tower, with city mayor Bill de Blasio, filmmaker Michael Moore and actor Alec Baldwin, who famously portrays Trump on Saturday Night Live.
Law enforcement is prepared for mass arrests, according to interim police chief Peter Newsham, but officials hope such actions will not be necessary. He told a Washington NBC station, “If we do have a mass arrest, we’ll be able to get people processed very quickly.”
There are new laws in DC providing protection for peaceful protesters and legal activist groups like the National Lawyers Guild, Law Students in Court, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, and others, who are volunteering to monitor police and provide legal representation pro bono for protesters in the event of an arrest.
New regulations reportedly prohibit officers from encircling demonstrators, arresting people for protesting without a permit and other aggressive actions.