United States: high security around Congress for Joe Biden’s speech

Facts Ahead of Joe Biden's speech to elected officials on Tuesday evening March 1, Washington regained the air of a city under siege, fourteen months after the assault on the Capitol. Significant measures have been taken due to the possible arrival in the American capital of convoys of truckers as opposed to health restrictions.

A high fence surrounding the Capitol, police cars with flashing lights blocking streets in the heart of the American capital, military vehicles deployed… As on January 20, 2021, during the inauguration of Joe Biden , Washington again looks like of besieged city. On Tuesday evening, the American president will deliver the traditional State of the Union address to Congress. The police fear the presence, near the Capitol, of opponents of sanitary measures, inspired by the Canadian example.

A city again under siege

The State of the Union address is one of the major rituals of American political life: at the start of each year, the President goes to Congress to deliver a much-awaited speech, in the presence of all elected officials and Supreme Court justices. At 9 p.m. EST, the president lays out his priorities for the year ahead, on prime time.

On this occasion, security is always reinforced on the banks of the Potomac. But this year, the precautions are maximum. At the request of Capitol police, the barriers that protected the building for six months after the offensive by pro-Trump activists on January 6, 2021 have returned to the capital. To prevent overflows, the National Guard was also deployed, with the arrival of 300 reinforcements from other states in the country in support of the 400 soldiers from Washington mobilized.

The fear of American “freedom convoys”

According to the American authorities, there is no specific threat. But the departure, in recent weeks, of multiple “freedom convoys” heading for Washington, from several points in the country, raises fears of rallies, and overflows, in the capital.

Because the movement opposed to the health pass in Canada, which blocked Ottawa for several weeks, has been emulated in the United States . A “people's convoy” left Adelanto, California, in late February and headed for Washington. An organization of truckers, The American Truckers Freedom Fund, has also launched several caravans, notably from Washington State on the West Coast.

Read also In Ottawa, the “freedom convoys” dislodged by the police

Doubts persist on the date of the arrival of these convoys in the capital and on their size. But the authorities fear mobilizations from March 1 in Washington. They also have the assurance that they include individuals who, on January 6, 2021, were in the crowd gathered to prevent the certification of Joe Biden's victory.

A country still as polarized

These precautions illustrate the divisions that continue to cross the country, despite the will displayed by Joe Biden during his inaugural speech. “Restoring the soul and securing America's future takes more than words. You need the most elusive thing of all in a democracy: unity,” the new head of state said on the steps of the Capitol in January 2021.

“Today, on this day in January, this is what my soul is fully set on: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause, ” Joe Biden continued after being sworn in.

Read also United States: reconciling the country, an almost impossible mission for Joe Biden

According to a poll published in February by the Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown University, 43% of Americans believe that political life has become less serene since the election of Joe Biden, 29% believing on the contrary that the your tone had calmed down. These divisions rank third in their concerns, behind the rising cost of living and the economy.

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