Bracing for possible violence, the US capital has mobilised the National Guard ahead of protests by President Donald Trump's supporters planned for January 6 (US time).
The demonstrations will be held while the US Congress meets to affirm Joe Biden's election victory. So far, Trump has enlisted support from a dozen Republican senators and up to 100 House Republicans to challenge Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win during that joint session of Congress.
Trump's supporters are planning to rally over two days, seeking to bolster the President's unproven claims of widespread voter fraud. "There are people intent on coming to our city armed," DC Acting Police Chief Robert Contee said.
Trump has repeatedly encouraged the protests and hinted that he may get personally involved.
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A pro-Trump rally in December ended in violence as hundreds of Trump supporters sought out confrontations with a collective of local activists. They cheered as Trump's helicopter flew low over the crowds on the National Mall. At a November rally, which drew about 15,000 people, Trump staged a limousine drive-by past cheering crowds on the city's iconic Pennsylvania Avenue.
Now with downtown Washington DC businesses boarding up their windows, mayor Muriel Bowser has requested a limited National Guard deployment to help bolster police presence. Bowser has asked residents to stay away from downtown DC and avoid confrontations with anyone who is "looking for a fight". But, she warned, "we will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city".
The "Trump March" protests are unlikely to affect the ultimate outcome of the Electoral College results, which will almost certainly be certified by Congress, and numerous Republicans have already criticised Trump's efforts.
"The scheme by members of Congress to reject the certification of the presidential election makes a mockery of our system and who we are as Americans," said Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also tried to prevent his party from objecting to the certification process, saying it would be a terrible vote for his Republican colleagues. In essence, lawmakers would be forced to choose between the will of the outgoing President and that of the voters.
Expected attendees at the protest include high-level Trump supporters like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Republican strategist Roger Stone, a longtime Trump devotee whose three-year prison sentence was commuted by Trump. Stone was convicted of repeatedly lying to Congress during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Some 340 National Guard members will be activated in DC, with about 115 on duty in the streets at any given time. Guard members will be used to set up traffic control points around the city and to stand with district police officers at all the city's Metro stops.