(WASHINGTON) — Washington, D.C., is increasing police presence and urging visitors not to bring guns as the city prepares for rallies and Supreme Court rulings on hot-button topics including abortion and gun rights.
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said Friday his department is in a “posture of preparedness” for upcoming events.
“We are increasing our presence to have coverage in neighborhoods and our downtown areas, which includes the activation of civil disturbance unit platoons,” he said at a press conference alongside Mayor Muriel Bowser. “In addition, 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 D.C., a March for Our Lives demonstration is expected to draw thousands calling for action on gun control after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 young children and two teachers dead. That followed a shooting in Buffalo, New York, where a gunman opened fire and killed 10 Black people.
The Supreme Court is also expected to deliver several opinions this month, with one or more decisions being handed down Monday and Wednesday.
Contee said if more officers are needed at any point, the Metropolitan Police Department will call upon departments in neighboring jurisdictions.
The police chief also specifically warned against bringing guns to any upcoming events amid a disturbing trend of high-profile mass shootings.
“If you’re coming to enjoy our beautiful city, individuals should not think to bring firearms into our beautiful city,” he said. “We need to help keep the peace in our city — leave the law enforcement and the firearms, leave that to the Metropolitan Police Department. That’s our responsibility.”
The FBI Washington field office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia released a statement Friday reiterating its commitment to keep 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 Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono.
Tensions have been running high in recent weeks as the nation awaits decisions in two high-profile Supreme Court cases — one on gun rights and another on abortion rights.
Earlier this week, an armed man was arrested outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Bowser said Friday that the city won’t “live in fear.”
“We’re going to rely on each other but also on our government who knows how to support large-scale events and are going to take every precaution that we can, but we’re also asking each other to look out for our neighbors,” she said.
– ABC News’ Beatrice Peterson contributed to this report.
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