On January 20, Kamala Harris will become America’s first female vice president and woman of colour in the White House.
But that historic occasion is being marred by fears she is fast becoming the number one target of fanatical white supremacists and bigoted supporters of ousted US President Donald Trump.
Tensions remain high across the US in the wake of the deadly January 6 Washington siege, which saw pro-Trump insurgents storm the Capitol in what president-elect Joe Biden branded an act of “domestic terrorism”.
Five people died in the mayhem, including police officer Brian D Sicknick and four right-wing rioters.
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Another police officer present at the siege, Howard Liebengood, died by suicide three days later.
While the rioters were primarily there to revolt against the results of the November 3 election, many arrived with Confederate flags, Nazi symbols and racist slogans and insignia.
And now, supporters of Ms Harris are growing increasingly concerned that she could emerge as the top target for the insurgents’ rage.
In a recent Washington Post analysis of potential security threats facing the 56-year-old, a number of supporters and friends expressed their anxiety over the upcoming inauguration event – and its aftermath.
“I am very afraid for her,” said Lateefah Simon, a civil rights advocate who was mentored by Ms Harris earlier in her career.
Harris supporter and fellow politician Frederica Wilson, who was present during the terrifying riots, put it in even clearer terms.
“I’m petrified,” she said.
“Her big day, the big day for the nation, a crowning moment for America as she breaks through thousands of glass ceilings … And that’s going to be shrouded by fear of a white mob of insurgents who are racist and hate-filled. That’s the sad part about all this.”
And is seems their concerns are not unfounded.
Authorities have been working around the clock to track down and bring to justice those behind the January 6 attack, with more than 70 individuals charged so far.
The FBI has since set up a special sedition and conspiracy task force in response, and 170 people have already been identified as suspects.
During the Trump administration, white supremacists have emerged as some of his most loyal supporters.
And as the Washington Post reports: “That Harris is not only black, but also a woman and a daughter of immigrants, combine to make her a unique focus of racist and misogynistic animus – a symbol of a changing America that white supremacists loath to see.”
Authorities are taking threats facing the inauguration seriously, and have gone to extreme measures already to ensure the safety of the incoming leaders and those who will be in attendance on the day, which will be unlike any in history.
Members of the public have been urged to steer clear as a result of both the coronavirus pandemic and the recent insurrection, and thousands of National Guard troops will be in place for the “national special security event”.
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And while inauguration events usually draw in crowds of around 200,000, this time around just over 1000 tickets will be issued – one for each of the 535 members plus one guest.
“This inauguration is going to look differently than previous inaugurations. I think we all know that,” Secret Service special agent Michael Plati, leading security planning for the inauguration, told The New York Times.
The FBI has also warned of the threat of fresh, armed protests across the US next week.
While Ms Harris has not yet addressed the specific concerns for her safety, civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton summarised the feelings of Harris supporters during this unprecedented time of upheaval and unrest.
“I feel that she (Harris) is doing it at the risk of her own life, to put her hand on the Bible and become the first black woman and first woman to be vice president of the United States. I feel a mixture of joy and fear – which have been the two strands of thought that black Americans have had to pass since we’ve been brought here,” he told the Washington Post.