WASHINGTON - D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is advising residents of the region to stay home, stay out of the way and out of the capital, especially come March 1st when trucker protests are expected to arrive in the District.
"The public should stay away from the capital. These people are coming with God knows what message. First, it was pandemic restrictions. Now we hear some of them are talking about re-opening the Keystone Pipeline – about border security. So this is not exactly a focused crowd," the District’s Congresswoman said. Norton told FOX 5 it’s all the more reason why local and federal authorities must prepare for anything and everything.
The Congresswoman will be with her colleagues and the president inside the U.S. Capitol that day for the 2022 State of the Union Address.
Norton told FOX 5 there are discussions to include an inner and outer perimeter fence around the U.S. Capitol Building. She’s expected to meet with United States Capitol Police to go over security plans Wednesday afternoon.
"I hate to say it, but we’ve had practice, and you hate to use that word too, in all of this. So I think the public is going to hold all of us accountable precisely because we’ve gone through this before – we ought to know what to do by now," Norton added.
Wednesday is also the day a Pennsylvania trucker told FOX 5 he was planning to "shut down" the Capital Beltway, drawing the analogy of a boa constrictor choking its prey. Bob Bolus told FOX 5 on Tuesday he’s still planning to "be on the Beltway" in protest if enough supporters show up to join him on Wednesday morning. There would need to be around 100 drivers or more, otherwise, he’s not going to waist his time, Bolus told FOX 5 over the phone.
A Homeland Security spokesperson tells FOX 5 they are not seeing any calls for violence associated with the trucker convoy. More than one convoy is planning to arrive in the District according to online information.
Some truckers have threatened to shut down or disturb major commuter traffic arteries, like the 64-mile stretch of the Capital Beltway.
Maryland State Police told FOX 5 they already have troopers in staging areas. Law enforcement sources across the region tell FOX 5 while they are monitoring for movement this week, both local and federal partners are mainly focused on trucker events planned around March 1st.
The National Park Service confirmed on Monday it received a permit request for an event in support of the trucker convoy on March 1st that would make way for around 1,000 to 3,000 people.
Law enforcement is preparing for a "worst case-scenario" even though a security expert tells FOX 5 he doesn’t see this trucker convoy having the same outcome and impact around D.C. as it did in Ottawa, Canada.
"We have to take it very seriously. I think the last several years kind of demonstrated that these events can kind of explode or blossom or burgeon and particularly when people don’t always handle it correctly on both sides – either the protest side or the state-side or civil authority," said Association of the U.S. Navy Executive Director Jason Beardsley. So there’s a chance this could be a lot more serious than I think intended, but we got to remember this is Washington. It’s the National Capital and the federal government."
Beardsley also told FOX 5 if truckers were serious, there are more effective protest actions they could take instead of likely being dismantled in D.C. should they attempt to shut down any major commuter arteries.
The Pentagon’s press secretary confirmed on Tuesday both the District’s emergency management agency and Capitol Police requested assistance from the D.C. National Guard. Press Secretary John Kirby said the D.C. National Guard was requested to assist with "potential challenges stemming from possible disruptions at key traffic arteries."
Neither agency would answer how many guard members were requested, but the request from the city has been approved, according to the D.C. Mayor’s Office.
"The governor is monitoring the situation and has directed the secretary of transportation to work with the appropriate agencies to ensure all travelers are able to make it safely through Virginia," a spokesperson for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin told FOX 5.
"Metro continues to work with our local and regional partners in preparation for planned demonstrations and will notify customers of any service impacts through our normal channels on wmata.com, MetroAlerts text and email messages and on Twitter @wmata @MetrobusInfo @MetrorailInfo. We encourage customers to sign up for MetroAlerts to receive updated service information," wrote WMATA’s spokesperson in a statement.