National Guard occupies Foggy Bottom as campus closes amid Inauguration Day threats

Media Credit: Gabrielle Rhoads | Staff Photographer

GW's Foggy Bottom Campus falls adjacent to the Secret Service's "red zone," where roads are entirely closed to vehicles.

National Guard members, automatic rifles, military-style vehicles and security fencing are among the sights on campus ahead of Wednesday’s presidential inauguration.

The Foggy Bottom Campus is under D.C.’s “green zone,” a region with traffic restricted just to residents and businesses to protect the inauguration from potential security threats resembling the mob of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Under heightened public safety concerns, University and District officials implemented a series of security protocols to keep the neighborhood safe amid fears of repeated violence and riots.

Here’s what you need to know about safety and security on campus before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris:

National Guard arrives on campus
The federal government authorized more than 20,000 armed National Guard troops to deploy in D.C. last Tuesday with about 7,000 currently stationed on the streets, according to a Military Times report. The troops have been seen stationed across campus with vehicles parked on G and H streets outside the Science and Engineering and Funger halls.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which warns of armed protests across the country, started vetting and investigating National Guard members for threats of “insider attacks” this week.

The Metropolitan Police Department blocked off 20th Street on the edge of campus Tuesday with security fencing that extended from Independence Avenue up to L Street. The fencing sits one block away from the edge of the red zone on 19th Street, which restricts access to “authorized vehicles” and stretches until 3rd Street NW.

COVID-19 testing, University offices close
Administrators announced the closure of all campus offices and COVID-19 testing centers, designating Inauguration Day as a University holiday and restricting campus to residential students and on-site staff. Officials said COVID-19 testing sites are closed between Monday and Inauguration Day.

“Please be assured that, as ever, safety is driving every action we take, and we remain in close coordination with our local, regional and federal partners,” officials said in an email. “We stand ready to take any additional actions necessary to protect the safety of our campus and our University community.”

The email states the Medical Faculty Associates closed its Foggy Bottom clinics Tuesday, adding to their already-planned closures on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day. Campus libraries also shut down in-person services from Saturday through Wednesday.

Students receive special GWorld cards
Officials slipped special GWorld cards “with identifying information” under the door of each residential student last week. The cards indicate that students have been approved and are living in a residence hall on campus, according to a message officials issued to students.

The message states the card is “supplemental” to regular GWorld and doesn’t provide tap access to buildings on campus. Officials said students should expect to see officers on campus who might request identification before allowing campus access.

“If you need to leave your room for any reason in the next week, carry your GWorld Card, your special GW Residence Hall Card and a government-issued photo ID until Jan. 21, or until the security perimeters are removed,” the message states.

National Mall, Metro stations shut down
The National Park Service closed the National Mall Friday, enforcing restrictions “at least” through Thursday, according to a press release. The release states the closure includes Lafayette Park, the Ellipse, East and West Potomac parks and NPS land along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The majority of the closed space is “roughly bounded by Constitution Avenue, NW to the north; Ohio Drive, SW to the south; the Potomac River to the west; and 3rd Street to the east,” according to the release.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority also shuttered 13 stations around the National Mall and U.S. Capitol Friday and planned Metrobus detours near the security perimeter close to campus. The Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro stop remains open.

Metrobus will operate on a regular weekly schedule, aside from Inauguration Day, which will adopt Saturday bus hours.

Indoor dining ban extended
Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the District’s indoor dining ban two days past Inauguration Day, citing “public safety and health reasons” just before the ban was set to expire last Friday. Bowser said during a press conference that the extension would be targeted at fears of renewed riots and violence around the inauguration, according to a Washington City Paper report.

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