American Journalists at Risk is a Chilling Reality Check for Democracy

By Jhoana T. Merino-Martinez

News Editor

Body armor is distributed among journalists reporting at a scene with over 25,000 National Guard troops deployed — this is not a picture of a war torn foreign region, this is the United States preparing for Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. 

What is normally a ceremonious demonstration of America’s democracy has turned into a giant target for another pro-trump riot similar to the seige of Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. 

Preparations are underway for ‘any scenario’, as White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield reported to ABC News, as government officials and journalists are expected to be at risk during this normally peaceful traditional event. 

This year’s inauguration is expected to have fewer than 1,500 officials invited — compared to the crowd of 200,000 invited in 2016, the Daily Mail reports

What is absolutely chilling is the fact that journalists from different presses are currently being prepped for a similar scene to the insurrection on Capitol Hill. During the attack, at least nine journalists were physically assaulted and at least four left with damaged equipment, CNN reports

An inside attack orchestrated by service members is a big concern for U.S. defense officials for the roles they played in the Capitol Hill insurrection, so deployed guardsmen in D.C. are being vetted by the FBI in wake of this threat, Politico reports.

All of these preparations not just to ensure a peaceful transition, but to protect our first amendment right to freedom of the press. 

The pressures of this year’s inauguration leaves our hearts heavy as journalists, though it puts into perspective the importance of the role they play in reporting key events in history such as these.

COVID-19 Numbers

As of this morning, Bergen County witnessed an increase of 281 positive COVID-19 cases, while there were 3,853 more cases in New Jersey. 

The following are the latest numbers COVID-19 cases from yesterday and today.

Tues. 1/19/2021Mon. 1/18/2021
New Jersey631,000627,000 
Bergen County60,98560,704 

*Numbers according to Google Statistics.

Stay tuned for daily news updates at 10 a.m. 

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(Left) National Guard Humvees Are Seen Patrolled Around Washington DC. (Right) Reporter for the LA Times wears a gas mask sent to prepare for inauguration coverage. 

Photos courtesy of Michael M. Santiago (Left) and Sarah Wire (Right)