The mayor of Washington, D.C., activated an estimated 340 National Guard troops on Monday as the city prepares for expected protests later this week when Congress will vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.
The Associated Press reported that on New Year's Eve Mayor Muriel Browser requested a National Guard presence within the city from Jan. 5 to Jan. 7 in anticipation of the vote. The troops will not be armed and will not wear body armor. They are mostly expected to be used for traffic control and "other assistance."
In a statement released Sunday, Bowser asked city residents to avoid the areas in downtown D.C. where President Donald Trump's supporters will gather to protest the results of the 2020 election. She told residents "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."
On Monday, she repeated her warning at a news conference, urging residents to avoid those "looking for a fight." She also warned "we will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city."
According to the Associated Press, about 115 troops will be on duty at any one time in the city, setting up traffic control points and working with local law enforcement to manage crowds.
"Some of our intelligence certainly suggests there will be increased crowd sizes," acting Police Chief Robert Contee said. "There are people intent on coming to our city armed."
Demonstrators are reportedly planning to gather at the Washington Monument, the Freedom Plaza and the Capitol.
It is illegal to openly carry firearms in Washington, D.C. Concealed-carry permits from other states will not allow the permit holder to carry a firearm inside the district. Additionally, federal law prohibits firearms at popular protest sites including Freedom Plaza, and the National Mall, while D.C. law bans guns within 1,000 feet of a protest.
President Trump said Sunday he will attend the protests in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, when Congress will vote to certify the Electoral College results that Biden won 306-232. Trump has not yet conceded the election and continues to claim that widespread voter fraud stole the election for Biden.
Some Republican lawmakers plan on objecting to the certification of the Electoral College votes, which will trigger several hours of debate that could delay the process but will likely fall short of persuading enough members of Congress to vote against rejecting the results.