Washington, DC, is increasing police presence and urging visitors not to bring guns as the city prepares for rallies and Supreme Court rulings on hot topics including abortion and human rights firearms.
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said on Friday his department was in a “preparedness position” for the events to come.
“We are increasing our presence to have coverage in neighborhoods and our town centers, which includes activating platoons of civil unrest units,” he said during a press conference alongside the Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Additionally, we are working closely with our law enforcement, government and community partners to ensure that all of these events are peaceful and our neighborhoods are safe.”
This weekend in DC, a March for Our Lives protest is expected to draw thousands of people calling for action against gun control after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, broke out. left 19 young children and two teachers dead. This followed a shooting in Buffalo, New York, where a gunman opened fire and killed 10 black people.
The Supreme Court is also expected to issue several opinions this month, with one or more rulings due Monday and Wednesday.
Contee said if more officers are needed at any given time, the Metropolitan Police Department will call in departments from neighboring jurisdictions.
The police chief also specifically warned against bringing firearms to any upcoming event amid a worrying trend of high-profile mass shootings.
“If you come to enjoy our beautiful city, individuals should not think of bringing firearms to our beautiful city,” he said. “We have to help keep the peace in our city – leave the law enforcement and the guns, leave that to the Metropolitan Police Department. That’s our responsibility.”
The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia issued a statement on Friday reiterating their commitment to keeping the peace this summer.
“We will not tolerate violence, destruction, interference with government functions, or trespassing on government property,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves and FBI Deputy Director Steven M. D ‘Antuono.
Tensions have been running high in recent weeks as the nation awaits rulings in two high-profile Supreme Court cases – one over gun rights and the other over abortion rights.
Earlier this week, a gunman was arrested outside the home of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Nicholas Roske, 26, from California, has been charged with the attempted murder of a US Supreme Court justice. Roske’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Andrew Szekely, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Roske was reportedly angry over the recent mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and the leaked Supreme Court draft decision impacting Roe v. Wade, according to an affidavit previously reported by ABC News.
Bowser said Friday that the city will “not live in fear.”
“We will count on each other but also on our government which knows how to support large-scale events and which will take all possible precautions, but we also ask ourselves to be careful of our neighbours,” she said.
– ABC News’ Beatrice Peterson and Luke Barr contributed to this report.