United States: Washington barricades itself before Joe Biden's inauguration

Audio 03:43

Soldiers in the streets of Washington before the inauguration of Joe Biden.

© RFI - Marie Normand

Text by: Marie Normand Follow

8 min

In the United States, on the eve of Joe Biden's inauguration, downtown Washington looks like an entrenched camp.

Tens of thousands of National Guard members are deployed in the streets of the city center.

A large, fully barricaded "red zone" has been set up from the White House to Capitol Hill, where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in on Wednesday, January 20.


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From our special correspondent in Washington, 

It looks like a war zone

 ," says the taxi driver who drives us from the airport to downtown Washington.

He has never seen that in 40 years in the business.


Look, all the exits to the city center are closed.

The 14th, the 12th… all the streets leading to the capitol are closed


At least 20,000 members of the National Guard, from across the country, are currently deployed in the city of Washington, especially in this " 

red zone

 " which surrounds the places of power of the federal government.

Reinforcements are arriving: the reservists will be 25,000 by the nomination Wednesday.

► To read also: United States: what are the expectations of the Americans on the 100 days of Joe Biden?

A few blocks from the Capitol, the birds can be heard singing.

Almost no one in the streets, apart from soldiers, police and journalists.

The main avenues leading to the " 


 ", this large esplanade where the main places of power in Washington are located, are blocked by concrete blocks or military vehicles.

Entrenched camp atmosphere

Everywhere, hotels and businesses have protected their storefronts with large wooden panels. “ 

It's better to do too much than not enough.

But I don't think it's all necessary,

 ”says Gabriel, a carpenter, who plays a drill on Massachusetts Avenue.

He explains that he has already protected the windows of a large part of the buildings on this long artery, on several blocks.

This entrenched camp atmosphere complicates the lives of residents.

Robert Hogan was surprised.

Impossible to park his car after returning from a weekend with his parents.

I could not access

 the garage of my building, he plague. 

They closed everything without telling the residents anything


The streets are cordoned off as we approach the Washington Capitol, before the inauguration of Joe Biden.

© RFI - Marie Normand

Today, this Georgetown University student came to distribute donuts and coffee to members of the National Guard.

He sees them working 24 hours a day from the window of his apartment, which he shares with his friend, Isabeila Despirito.


We live right at the first national guard checkpoint, on the border between the red zone and the green zone.

My apartment is there, just above,

 ”shows the young woman.

I think the presence of the military and the police is more of a deterrent for people to think twice before coming to our city and causing violence



We feel safe!

 Says Robert Hogan.


We don't know the level of credibility of the threats hanging over Washington.

If everything returns to normal next Friday and the nomination goes smoothly, that's fine with me


An investiture without an audience

This investiture will take place in a completely new security and health context.

Dow will not be attending the ceremony.

She says she is still in shock at the intrusion of supporters of Donald Trump in the Capitol and explains that she does not recognize her country today.


The mayor of Washington and Joe Biden have recommended not to make the trip.

No need to play with fire,

says Paul Pickun.

He will not attend the ceremony either.


We have to fix this country.

We don't need to party, we need to be relieved.

We can party later!

Here we especially need to put an end to the pain we all feel


►Also read: 

United States: Joe Biden wants to act quickly after taking office


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