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The audience size at President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20, 2021, inauguration was limited because of concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 and security following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Although the 2020 election is years in the rearview mirror and a new presidential contest is quickly approaching, social media users reshared footage from President Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration to rehash election misinformation.
One video, shared Sept. 23 on Instagram, shows a nearly vacant National Mall during Biden’s Jan. 20, 2021, inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. The filming appears to be taking place in a press area several blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
"We’re here at the inauguration. It’s the most bizarre scene you ever saw in your life. There’s like 100 people at the Biden inauguration and it’s dystopian," says someone off camera.
Later in the video, the person says, "It's eerie, you know, the first time Biden got thousands of people to his event, but they're all National Guardsmen who are forced to be here. There is no security threat down here. It's just a lie. And I think they brought in these 25,000 troops because Biden couldn't get enough people to his inauguration. And it's a cover. It's very sad."
Screengrab from Instagram
At the end of the video, the person says to stay tuned to Real America’s Voice News, a conservative streaming channel and website. PolitiFact reached out to the site to verify whether one of its employees took this footage, but did not hear back before publication.
Text on the video reads, "Amazing video and kudos to whoever is behind the camera. True footage of Biden’s inauguration."
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Although the in-person audience at Biden’s 2021 inauguration was small, this video omits important context. The crowd size was limited because of concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 and security following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Biden’s inauguration committee encouraged people to stay home and watch the ceremony virtually to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tickets for the event also were limited. Usually, 200,000 tickets are distributed among members of Congress for their constituents. But because of the pandemic, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies only gave members of Congress tickets for themselves and one guest each.
Security measures around Washington, D.C., were enhanced because rioters had stormed the Capitol two weeks before. The National Mall was closed to the public on Inauguration Day, and additional streets were closed to expand the security perimeter around the event.
Also, 25,000 National Guard members, along with Secret Service agents and police officers, were stationed in Washington for the inauguration, in case more violence broke out.
Because of these restrictions, a small audience of about 1,000 people attended Biden’s inauguration.
We rate the claim that "they brought in 25,000 (National Guard members) because Biden couldn't get enough people to his inauguration" False.
Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, "JCCIC announces attendance guidelines for 59th inaugural ceremonies," Dec. 16, 2020
PolitiFact, "Joe Biden’s inauguration in extraordinary times, fact-checked," Jan. 20, 2021
PolitiFact, "Donald Trump had biggest inaugural crowd ever? Metrics don't show it," Jan. 21, 2017
PolitiFact, "Inaugural crowd sizes ranked," Jan. 20, 2017
USA Today, "What will the crowd size at Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20 look like?," Jan. 19, 2021
USA Today, "Fact check: Attendance at Biden's inauguration was restricted by COVID-19 pandemic," Jan. 20, 2021
NPR, "Photos: Historic inauguration will not look like the past," Jan. 20, 2021
NBC News, "National Mall could be closed on Inauguration Day," Jan. 14, 2021
Axios, "Biden's inauguration committee urges Americans to stay home for ceremony," Dec. 15, 2020
CNN, "Pentagon authorizes 25,000 National Guard members for inauguration," Jan. 15, 2021
Roll Call, "Historic firsts and a healing Capitol at Biden, Harris inauguration," Jan. 20, 2021
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