Lawson walked into the halls of the US Capitol on Wednesday among armed National Guard patrols as the city of Washington was closed and ridden, while Congress weighed in on President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment.
The city at the center of American democracy has been a shadow of itself during the epidemic bandh, but now it is also under heavy security after a deadly attack on Congress building by Trump supporters.
In body armor and camouflage, dozens of National Guard members can be seen sleeping or resting on the floor inside the Capitol, their black rifles leaning against the polished stone walls of the building’s hall.
Lawmakers are back to decide whether to accuse the mob of stirring up the Capitol last week in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Congress from finalizing Trump’s November loss.
The building’s grounds are ringed by a security fence after the attack, as happened months earlier around the White House when protests sparked a nationwide explosion against police killings of African Americans.
The capital of the United States, known for its historical monuments and tourist crowds, has had a tough ride over the past 12 months.
Humming the city once on foot, it is difficult to tell which buildings have been closed by epidemics and which buses have been closed due to violent protests in the city.
Jaime, a mother from Maryland, said, “This is the first time in a year (in the city of Washington). There are usually people walking around everywhere. It’s very quiet. I think it’s like a ghost in itself . ” He did not wish to be given his full name.
Crowds of schoolchildren, who usually travel from around the country to visit museums and see the White House, now live mostly as foreign tourists.
The busy jostles of politicians, lobbyists and lawyers on the street have also calmed down, while the large metro stations that bring in workers from the suburbs are quiet and underutilized.
The city of more than 700,000 residents is under control, one week before Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration on the steps of the Capitol.
“The city is basically desolate,” said 55-year-old Nadine Seiler, who has been demonstrating every day since late October near the White House in favor of anti-racist causes.
“It’s usually very stressful, but here it’s like everyone’s vacation,” she said.
As in Western cities, many workers are signing in from home – especially employees at large institutions headquartered in Washington, such as the World Bank and IMF, as well as countless government agencies.
The eateries must try to survive by erecting tents and mercies on the side of the sidewalks, and entice customers to sit near heaters of varying efficiency while battling the cold of winter.
“I went to the Christmas market … it’s gone, it’s all gone. You go to bars, (first) packed bars – it’s gone,” said Timothy Bartholomew, a resident of Arlington just above the Potomac River said.
According to expert site Itter, about 70 restaurants have closed permanently in Washington since the onset of the epidemic, and many others are ridden without any certainty that they will ever reopen.
Violent protests and unrest have rocked Washington repeatedly over the past year.
After the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May, Washington became the center of attention for nationwide anti-racist demonstrations.
City officials painted huge yellow letters in a wide street outside the White House reading “Black Lives Matter” and the venue became a popular venue for rallies.
But over the course of months, clashes between anti-racism activists and pro-Trump protesters have led to tensions in the city.
Roads and sidewalks have slowly closed around the White House, with the security cordon now holding people far away from Trump’s residence.
Police cars maintain their flashing lights at all times, and prevent roads from traffic as usual, while high metal fences surround many government buildings such as the American Treasury.
The crowd chanting the inauguration on 20 January would be thin on the ground, with officials urging Americans to escape the city, fearing more violence.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)