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Politics and Government

Colorado sending at least 200 National Guard troops to Washington for Joe Biden’s inauguration

Gov. Jared Polis said he is deploying the Colorado National Guard troops at the request of the Washington, D.C., National Guard

With Aaron Zinser, center, are Army National Guardsmen Haidar Osman, Jesse Bavender, A.J. Youngerman, and Raymond Schultz, at the nose of a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Gov. Jared Polis is sending at least 200 members of the Colorado National Guard to Washington, D.C., for security purposes surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.

“Colorado will proudly do our part, joining 40 other states across our great nation in sending members of our National Guard to the nation’s capital for our country’s upcoming presidential inauguration on Jan. 20th,” Polis said in a written statement. “The presence of the Colorado National Guard and others will help ensure our nation’s capital and all Americans in attendance including those who call it home and members of our federal government are safe and protected during this peaceful transition of power that has occurred in our country for hundreds of years.”

Polis said he is deploying the Colorado National Guard troops at the request of the Washington, D.C., National Guard.

The move comes after pro-Donald Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol last week. Five people died in the mob, including a police officer.

All through downtown Washington, the primary sound for several blocks was the beeping of forklifts unloading more fencing.

There were no cars or scooters and seemingly no tourists Wednesday, just the occasional jogger and multiple construction crews at work. The U.S. Capitol, which proved such a soft target last week, was visible only through lines of tall, black fence.

Two blocks from the White House, a group of uniformed National Guard troops emerged from a tour bus and headed into a hotel as a state of lockdown descended on Washington that will last through the Jan. 20 inauguration.

The number of National Guard troops coming to Washington to assist with security has so far grown to about 21,000, Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told Vice President Mike Pence at a briefing Thursday. And officials have said the number could grow as law enforcement agencies review the ongoing threats.

“Clearly we are in uncharted waters,” said Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Last week’s “violent insurrection” at the Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump has “impacted the way we are approaching working with our federal partners in planning for the 59th inauguration,” Bowser said Wednesday.

The FBI has warned that armed protests by violent Trump supporters were being planned in all 50 state capitals as well as in Washington for the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Between the pandemic and the security threat, Bowser is flat-out asking people not to come to the District of Columbia for the inauguration. And at Bowser’s request, a National Special Security Event declaration was moved up to Jan. 13, a distinction she said “puts in place an entirely different command and control structure” for security.

Colorado Sun staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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