The White House has beefed up security ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech to accept the Republican Party’s renomination from the South Lawn on Thursday night, while protesters are expected to stage demonstrations in the capital city.
The Secret Service said in a statement that it, “in coordination with the National Park Service, is announcing perimeter closures of the areas in and around the White House complex,” including Lafayette Park, which sits north of the presidential residence.
“These measures include security fencing which is being erected and will be clearly marked,” the statement added. “These closures are in an effort to maintain the necessary security measures and ensure public safety.”
Protesters opposing Trump are expected to gather in downtown Washington, D.C. on Thursday night. Shutdown DC, an activist group, has planned to hold a noise demonstration to counter Trump’s remarks.
A pro-Trump rally will take place at Freedom Plaza, east of the White House, on Thursday night. The event, organized by the Maryland GOP and the Maryland Black Republican Council, expects to draw up to 2,500 participants.
Trump will “unload on” 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and go after the former vice president on “everything from the economy to trade,” according to Politico, citing people familiar with the address.
“At no time before have voters faced a clearer choice between two parties, two visions, two philosophies, or two agendas,” Trump is expected to say.
The remarks will come as protests and riots raged on in Kenosha, Wisconsin in the wake of the Aug. 23 police shooting of 29-year-old African American Jacob Blake.
Police on Wednesday arrested a teenager who allegedly shot and killed two people late Tuesday during the protests.
On Wednesday night, Vice President Mike Pence in his acceptance speech stressed Trump’s “law and order” message and reiterated the administration’s support of law enforcement officers but didn’t address what activists have called systemic racism in policing and in the United States at large.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Trump said he could increase the presence of National Guard in Kenosha to address the unrest if needed.
“We will put out the fire. We will put out the flame,” he said. “We will stop the violence very quickly.”
Biden, in an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, accused Trump of “rooting for more violence, not less.”
“He views this as a political benefit to him,” the former vice president said. “And he’s clear about that. And what’s he doing, he’s pouring more gasoline on the fire.”
To appeal to his voters, Trump has made the enforcement of “law and order” a major theme of his reelection campaign, repeatedly lashed out at cities run by Democrats, and sought to paint a doom-and-gloom picture of what the country would look like under the Biden presidency.
Joe Biden, whose campaign has made race relations a key part of his White House bid, has said that he supports police reform but not the movement to “defund the police.”
The finale of the 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC), under the theme “Land of Greatness,” will also feature Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and the president’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump.
A fireworks display is expected to light up the sky above the National Mall after Trump concludes his remarks.