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Washington Monument Closes In Response To 'Credible Threats' Surrounding Inauguration

The Washington Monument is closing to tours due to "credible threats to visitors and park resources" surrounding President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. The monument will remain closed through January 24.

The National Park Service said that groups involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol "continue to threaten" disruptions, including to the set up of inauguration events.

In addition to the suspension of Washington Monument tours, NPS may temporarily close public access to roadways, parking areas, and restrooms on the National Mall "if conditions warrant, to protect public safety and park resources," according to according to a statement from the National Park Service.

As of Saturday, NPS had received seven applications for public demonstrations in downtown Washington. A review of the applications by WAMU/DCist shows that only one permit is clearly a pro-Trump demonstration, with 300 attendees expected. The permit applicant, "Let America Hear Us, Roar For Trump", describes the event as a "1st Amendment Rights Gathering."

The efforts to clamp down on security ahead of the inauguration follow last week's violent insurrection at the Capitol, which left five people dead, and numerous threats of violence made on D.C. for the coming days. Plans for a "Million Militia March" on Inauguration Day have circulated on social media platforms like Parler and Telegram, where extremist groups, white supremacists, and Trump supporters flocked after Twitter permanently suspended the president's account. (Parler was removed from Apple's App Store over the weekend due to the threat of violence spreading on the platform.) Other threats included plans for an armed march on the U.S. Capitol and all state capitols on Sunday, Jan. 17, and calls for violence on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a letter to the acting secretary of the U.S. Department Homeland Security over the weekend calling for increased security measures for the inauguration. She requested that Department of the Interior Secretary cancel any permits granted for public gatherings from Jan. 11-24, and deny any applications for permits during this time. (The National Park Service, under the Department of the Interior, issues permits for events on the Mall, not local D.C. officials.)

Bowser has also urged Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to extend the National Special Security Event, which is currently in place from Jan. 19-21, to Jan. 11-24, which would allow for further collaboration between local D.C. agencies and federal officials.

During a press conference on Monday, Bowser said that she does not believe the inauguration should be closed to the public and instead called for partnership between District and federal law enforcement to establish a "security and federal force deployment plan for all federal property."

An NPS spokesperson did not immediately respond to DCist's request for comment regarding the details of any threats involving the Washington Monument. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's office and the Metropolitan Police Department did not immediately return DCist's request for comment on any collaboration with NPS.

According to the NPS statement Monday, "the closures will not adversely affect the park's natural aesthetic or cultural values, nor require significant modification to the resource management objection, nor is it of a highly controversial nature."

This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.

Copyright NPR 2021.

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