Law enforcement prepares for the possibility of a second round of D.C. attacks

March 3, 2021

Illustration by Deborah Han

In the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection that threatened the lives of members of Congress, law enforcement officials are bracing for a potential second round of violence, after reports of alleged plans by white-supremacist conspiracy theorists and far-right Trump supporters. These concerns rise during a time when a limited number of Georgetown students live on campus with many more residing within the DMV.

Both word-of-mouth rumors and formal statements of concern from authorities have indicated the possibility of a militia uprising against the Capitol somewhere between  March 4 to March 6. According to a private bulletin from the U.S. Capitol Police, the FBI released a report last month detailing a plot by the “Three Percenters” militia group to overtake the Capitol in an act of rebellion. Although the report alleges that the organization aims to send 50,000 armed people to Washington, the details surrounding the alleged plan are currently unclear. Regardless, authorities are on red alert to prevent any potential violence and a repeat of January’s events.

Within QAnon networks, another alleged plan for violence has formed that overlaps with the time frame of the Three Percenters’ possible uprising. Plans for alleged attacks on the Capitol stem from false conspiracy theories propagated by QAnon and extremist groups. The plan is based on a conspiracy theory that derives from the “sovereign citizens movement,” in which the U.S. turned from a government to a corporation in 1871. According to the conspiracy theory, the U.S. has not been a valid government, and therefore, all amendments to the Constitution since then are no longer valid. The last man to truly hold office, according to the conspiracy, was the eighteenth president, Ulysses S. Grant.

Until the implementation of the amendment in 1933, presidential inaugurations were held on March 4. Because many QAnon members believe that the U.S. government ceased to exist after 1871, their alleged attack is based on the conspiracy the Twentieth Amendment does not exist, nor a legitimate inauguration on Jan 20. The ‘true’ president, conspiracy theorists believe, must be inaugurated on March 4. In short, the white supremacist theory propagates the notion that Trump will be sworn in as the nineteenth U.S. president in a matter of days, thereby resuming the American government.

Reports of alleged attacks coincide with an increase in engagement with Trump-associated institutions. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which opened in September 2016, has been a hub for Trump’s supporters. Though the hotel officials have not made any explicit statements linking price changes to business from pro-Trump conspiracists, their room prices for March 4 have skyrocketed, increasing from around $500 per night to around $1,300. Unlike competing luxury hotels in the area, this rapid price change is unique to the Trump International Hotel between February and March.

The hotel has altered prices to coincide with Trump-related events on past occasions. In the days surrounding Jan. 6, pricing to stay at the Trump International Hotel soared, with the cheapest room costing $8,000. Mickael Damelincourt, the manager of the D.C. Trump International Hotel, tweeted on Jan. 7 that the hotel’s in-room dining had seen “record-breaking numbers” that week.

While a memo from the acting House sergeant-at-arms stated there is no indication of planned unrest, D.C. law enforcement, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, is preparing appropriate response measures in coordination with the National Guard and the Capitol Police.

For safety precautions, National Guard members have been stationed in D.C. and around the Capitol, and fencing and barriers that were constructed after Jan 6 are being retained. Further details on law enforcement plans have been kept private for fear of compromising preparations. Additionally, Congress has reworked its schedule to minimize activity during the alleged timeframe for violence, with voting on a police reform bill moved up from Thursday to Wednesday night.

No communication from the university has alerted students over potential violence within D.C. at the time of publication.

Kenneth Boggess
Kenny Boggess is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service. He is enthusiastic about Tchaikovsky, dark chocolate, and Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” series.

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