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The U.S. Postal Service is removing collection boxes and shuttering mail service at various Post Offices in Washington, D.C., and around the country ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration as an added security precaution.
Officials said that mail collection boxes on streets were locked or moved temporarily as safety precautions for city residents.
“It’s part of our normal procedures to keep our employees and customers safe during times of protest or when large crowds are gathered new postal facilities, on postal routes, or by mailboxes,” USPS spokesman David Partenheimer told CNN on Saturday.
Postal officials said that more than 15 locations around the nation’s capital have been affected, with varying reopening dates.
There were be widespread street closures on Jan. 20, the day of Biden’s inauguration, which is normal for such events. However, this year there is a strong military and security presence in the city as some 21,000 National Guard and 5,000 active-duty troops man armed checkpoints and security perimeters around the city.
The increase in security this year follows a riot at the U.S. Capitol Building Jan. 6, in which secured areas were nearly breached. One rioter, Ashli Babbitt, was shot by a security officer as she attempted to gain access to the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House chamber. She later died at an area hospital.
Meanwhile, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died after succumbing to wounds suffered during the melee with protesters. Three others who were involved in the breach also died from unrelated medical conditions.
Though mail service disruptions are common during inaugural events, CNN reported that USPS services will also be curtailed and post offices closed in at least 17 other states.
The FBI has warned that protests — some of them armed — could occur in various state capitals around the country before or on Inauguration Day. The bureau has advised local governments to be on the lookout for potential violence including the use of explosive devices.
An FBI spokesperson told Fox News the agency is “supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve.”
“Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity,” the FBI added, in a statement. “As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners.
“The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights,” the statement noted further.
The Capitol riot broke out around the time President Donald Trump began speaking to a crowd of more than 100,000 that had gathered in DC to show support for him on the day Congress met in joint session to certify the Electoral College ballots for Biden.
Trump was blamed for “inciting” the riot, which has been described by Democrats, left-wing media pundits and others as an “insurrection.”
While the president did tell the crowd to “march” to the Capitol, he did not ask anyone to storm the building.
“We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” he said.
Democrats and a handful of Republicans voted last week to impeach Trump an unprecedented second time, though the Senate is not expected to take it up before he leaves office Tuesday.
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