WASHINGTON (CNN) – On a day meant to commemorate a civil rights icon, the city where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a defining speech about racial harmony is in a state of emergency amid concerns of potential violence from domestic extremists.
“We don’t want to see fences,” said Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We definitely don’t want to see armed troops on our streets, but we do have to take a different posture.”
The coronavirus pandemic and siege of the U.S. Capitol have led to a marked change in Washington’s inaugural traditions.
“This will be an inaugural like no other, in large part because of COVID, but we’re going to get sworn in and we’re going to do the job we were hired to do,” said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
On Wednesday, Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as president as mounting crises from the pandemic to the economy to homegrown threats pose unprecedented challenges.
“I think the events of the past few weeks have proven out how damaged the soul of America has been and how important it is to restore it,” said Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff. “That work starts on Wednesday.”
All of this is going on while outgoing President Donald Trump, faces a historic post-presidency impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
“This was the most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America,” according to Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland.
Amid tragedies brought on by the pandemic and political division, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will now have to grapple with how to pull the country together
“It is imperative that we lead ourselves out of this, that we heal our nation,” Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina.