Washington braces for Biden's certification, protests

Road closures and DC National Guard troops in the streets

National Guard soldiers keep watch in a nearly empty Metro subway station as Pro-Trump demonstrators rally to protest the results of the 2020 US presidential election during in Washington, US January 5, 2021. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
National Guard soldiers keep watch in a nearly empty Metro subway station as Pro-Trump demonstrators rally to protest the results of the 2020 US presidential election during in Washington, US January 5, 2021.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The US Congress will meet on Wednesday to certify Joe Biden’s election victory, while a large number of President Donald Trump’s supporters are expected to protest against it in a series of rallies around the National Mall and downtown Washington.
According to the main event’s website, protesters are expected to gather next to the White House’s south lawn starting at 7 am local time.
“Democrats are scheming to disenfranchise and nullify Republican votes,” the website says. “It’s up to the American people to stop it. Along with President Trump, we will do whatever it takes to ensure the integrity of this election for the good of the nation.”
And other events across the city are planned, as well. According to Politico, Stop the Steal, a group affiliated with pro-Trump super PACs and allies of Trump adviser Roger Stone, has filed for permits and plans to protest outside the Capitol.
The DC police announced that many of the surrounding streets between the White House and Capitol Hill would remain closed for traffic until Wednesday night.
“The decision to restrict vehicles will be based upon public safety and if safe to do so, vehicles will be allowed to enter the restricted area if they are on essential business or traveling to-and-from their residence,” the DC Police said in a statement.
Muriel Bowser, wayor of Washington, called on residents “to stay out of the downtown area on Tuesday and Wednesday and not to engage with demonstrators who come to our city seeking confrontation, and we will do what we must to ensure all who attend remain peaceful.”   
Mayor Bowser also noted in her statement that “District law prohibits anyone from carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of any First Amendment activity. Under federal law, it is illegal to possess firearms on the US Capitol grounds and on National Park Service areas, such as Freedom Plaza, the Ellipse, and the National Mall.”
Additionally, the DC Municipality posted some signs in downtown Washington, reminding visitors all firearms are prohibited within 1,000 feet.
"We have received some information that there are individuals intent on bringing firearms into our city and that just will not be tolerated," Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told a City Hall news conference, adding that anyone found doing so or provoking violence would be arrested.
More than 300 troops will be on hand to support the city government, providing crowd control and aiding fire and rescue services, the DC National Guard said in a statement on Monday. They will be joined by the US Capitol Police, US Park Police and US Secret Service, Contee said.
Trump summoned supporters to this week's gatherings, saying on Twitter on Sunday that "I will be there," and on Friday that "it will be wild." Several rallies are planned for Wednesday, including one outside the US Congress.
The White House has not provided any official schedule, but one person briefed on his plans said Trump will speak to supporters January 6 at the Ellipse, a park just south of the White House.
Trump claims that Biden won the election through massive vote-rigging, even though dozens of state and federal court rulings, state election officials of both parties and the US Justice Department have found no major fraud.
Congress is constitutionally mandated to certify the presidential election results on Wednesday, in what would normally be a formality overseen by Vice President Mike Pence.
But at least 12 Republican senators and some 140 Republican House of Representatives members pledged to vote against certification of Biden's win, citing Trump's election fraud allegations.
District of Columbia Attorney-General Karl Racine told CBS he is preparing for another round of protests in the nation's capital. "My level of anxiety is high. My preparation is even more intense than that," Racine told CBS News in "The Takeout" podcast.
Racine added that he is worried the far-right group known as the Proud Boys will return to the District and "pick fights, create damage, damage property, and then act in a very threatening way."
Reuters contributed to this report.