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When I was younger, we had a next-door neighbor that would sponsor a foreign exchange student from time to time. It was pretty cool meeting people from other nations without ever having to leave my little town.

One year, we had someone that was a couple of years older than us that had come from what was the recently reunified Germany. I was old enough by that point for them to tell me about what life was like in a communist country and I just could not imagine the things that they had to put up with. It was scary.

What is happening right now in Washington D.C. is something akin to those stories I heard when I was much younger. I never can fathom allowing our nation’s capital to be turned into what is effectively a version of the Berlin Wall.

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday that in an effort to prevent violence during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, and in the days before, officials are discouraging the public from coming to the event and largely blocking off access to the streets around the Capitol.

Mayor Bowser locks down DC for inauguration

The city has also asked federal officials to cancel public gathering permits in the days before the event, but that request has not yet been granted, Mayor Bowser said. Parking garages near the Capitol will also be closed and blocked off beginning Friday.

“We have asked Americans not to come to the Washington D.C. event but to participate virtually,” Mayor Bowser said, comparing the plans to how New York City handled New Year’s Eve. The streets during that event, normally packed with millions of revelers, were nearly empty this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington DC’s mayor has long planned for a pared-down inauguration due to the pandemic, but those preparations are now abutted by enhanced security concerns following the violent January 6 riot in which Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, leaving five dead. In the days since, federal officials have warned that groups may be planning more violence in the days leading up to inauguration.

Washington D.C. Acting Police Chief Robert Contee, who has been with the department for more than 30 years, said he has never seen an event in the city with this much security.

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