D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged people Sunday to stay away from the downtown area during upcoming demonstrations, and away from people coming to the area to cause violence and destruction.
Violent clashes, stabbings and acts of destruction all took place after the pro-Trump rallies in downtown D.C. last month. In an interview on MSNBC, the mayor said the District is preparing for whatever happens this week.
“No one has the right to violate the law by bringing in a weapon, by destroying property or by antagonizing other people,” Bowser said.
Several protests are planned for Wednesday, when Congress certifies the Electoral College vote and declares that Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump in the November election.
The president said on Twitter that he plans to attend the demonstrations.
In Freedom Plaza, police posted signs declaring it a First Amendment activity area and saying no guns are allowed within 1,000 feet.
“We want to send a very clear message that … in the demonstration areas… you may not carry a concealed weapon. You may not carry a weapon at all,” Bowser said.
Bowser said that some pro-Trump demonstrators have come to D.C. looking for a fight and have violated the city’s mask orders.
Demonstrators have been shown on video destroying Black Lives Matter signs at historic Black churches downtown.
“We now know that these people come into town to harm, intimidate and desecrate sacred spaces,” Alexandra Bailey, an advisory neighborhood commissioner, said.
The chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Phyllis Randall, said she also wants people to stay home.
“In the face of organizations that are more than willing — and in fact eager — to engage in violent acts, counterprotestors can only serve to inflame an already dangerous situation,” she said in a statement.
Police will activate the emergency operations center and coordinate with federal police departments to ensure the demonstrations stay peaceful.