The mayor of the District of Columbia says that the domestic terrorism was not taken seriously enough in the past and a different approach is now needed.
In light of the assault on the US Capitol by pro-Trump rioters on 6 January, overwhelming security measures have been rolled out across downtown Washington, DC ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
In an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, Mayor Muriel Bowser said that while restrictions on the inauguration were long-expected given the coronavirus pandemic, the heightened security presence was justified by the events of 6 January.
With fortress-like conditions around the National Mall and the seats of the three branches of government, the mayor acknowledged her concern for softer targets in other parts of the city, and the wider threat across the country.
“I’m also concerned about other parts of Washington, DC. What you’re showing is really the federal enclave of Washington, DC, not where the 700,000 of us live,” she said. “So our police department, working with our federal law enforcement partners, and the United States Army quite frankly, also has a plan to pivot if we have any attacks in our neighbourhoods.”
Host Chuck Todd asked the mayor how long DC residents would be living in conditions that feel like “an armed camp”, adding that threats to the city will not go away after 20 January.
Mayor Bowser responded that the bigger question is how seriously the country takes the threat of domestic white extremism.
“What we saw here last week is that we didn’t take it seriously enough. We never believed that so-called patriots would attempt to overthrow their government and kill police officers, but that’s exactly what happened,” she said.
“I do think we have to take another posture in our city that is more domestic terrorist focussed than external to our country, and act accordingly.”
The mayor added that while she does not want to see fences and armed troops on the streets, a different approach is needed to security.