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Washington DC has been turned into an armed fortress ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration tomorrow.
The US capital has been fenced off with razor wire and surrounded by 25,000 National Guard troops as the Democrat prepares to enter the White House.
The ring of steel that is being constructed around government buildings is in stark contrast to previous inaugurations, when Washington has erupted in days of celebration.
The Covid-19 pandemic had already canceled the inaugural balls.
Now the National Mall is closed to the public due to threats of violence from groups who attacked the Capitol on January 6.
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(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
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Almost none of the public will witness firsthand the transition of power, souring the mood of Washingtonians.
"It's like a ghost town but with soldiers," said Dana O'Connor, who walked with her husband past concrete barriers near the White House on Sunday.
"It's eerie. It feels super unnatural."
Over the seven days thousands of personnel have been drafted in to secure Washington.
Some of the enlisted National Guard troopers were photographed sleeping on the floor of the Capitol building last week.
Around 25,000 National Guard troopers have been brought into Washington
Heavy fencing has been erected around the Capitol building
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
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They snoozed next to their guns in a marked show of bolstered security after the capital's police force were overrun by a violent mob the week before.
In the days following reports that Qanon followers had discussed posing as National Guard troopers to sneak into Washington, wide scale vetting was carried out.
A dozen members were removed from inauguration duty after checks including screening for potential ties to right-wing extremism were carried out.
In the place of tens of thousands of supporters who would have cheered on Biden – had there not been a pandemic or security threat – have been placed US flags.
Troopers have been vetted in recent days
(Image: ERIK S LESSER/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
They have created a maze of obstacles in front of where the incoming president will deliver his speech, potentially further frustrating any protest attempts.
Presidential inaugurations are normally high-security events, with metal detectors at key entry points, restricted ID-only zones and National Guard supplementing local and federal law enforcement.
But the level of precautions this year is unprecedented.
Tensions momentarily boiled over on Monday when smoke from a homeless camp fire led to a mass evacuation of people into the Capitol building.
It is thought the smoke from the fire triggered the evacuation
(Image: KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/REX/Shutterstock)
On Sunday Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said that law enforcement officials had no choice but to ramp up security after the deadly Capitol attack.
"We don't want to see fences,"Bowser said on NBC's Meet the Press.
"We definitely don't want to see armed troops on our streets.
"But we do have to take a different posture."
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said the set-up sorely damages the US's reputation as a beacon of democracy.
A vast restricted area in the centre of Washington is being guarded
(Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
"The world will see Biden sworn in, in the middle of a military camp that's indistinguishable from the Green Zone," Sabato said, referring to the fortress-like area of central Baghdad set up after the Iraq War.
Sabato has attended every inauguration since Richard Rixon's second one in 1973, and Ronald Reagan's 1985 swearing-in that was held indoors because of the bitter cold.
But he won't attend this one.
The National Mall has been filled with flags in lieu of absent members of the public
(Image: Susan Walsh/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
The Secret Service has incorporated the term "Green Zone" into its inauguration security maps, and District of Columbia residents have started using the moniker for the vast restricted area running from two blocks east of the Capitol to the Potomac River west of the Lincoln Memorial.
The district, one of the most Democratic jurisdictions in the United States, voted 92% for Biden, making the current situation even more painful for many residents.
Amy Littleton, a 30-year-old political consultant who lives about 10 blocks north of the White House, said "it just feels really unfair" to be excluded from Biden's inauguration.
"How dare these people try to steal our joy. We never did this – as much as we disagreed with the last (presidential) election, no one ever threatened people's security and safety," she said.