Statehouses, DC Brace for Inauguration 01/17 09:35
The threat of extremist groups descending on statehouses across the country
in demonstrations Sunday prompted some governors to roll out a massive show of
force and ramp up security, less than two weeks after a mob overran the
(AP) -- The threat of extremist groups descending on statehouses across the
country in demonstrations Sunday prompted some governors to roll out a massive
show of force and ramp up security, less than two weeks after a mob overran the
Fencing, boarded-up windows and lines of police and National Guard troops
have transformed statehouse grounds ahead of expected demonstrations leading up
to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.
The stepped-up security measures were intended to safeguard seats of
government from the type of violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan.
6, when a supporters of President Donald Trump swarmed the building while
Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote.
The FBI has warned of the potential for armed protests at the nation's
Capitol and all 50 state capitol buildings beginning this weekend. Some social
media messages had targeted Sunday for demonstrations, though it remained
unclear how many people might show up.
As dawn broke Sunday, state police and National Guard troops stood sentry
around a number of statehouses, including those in Michigan, Ohio and
Pennsylvania. But there were no signs yet of protestors.
In Columbus, Ohio, nearly every business around the downtown capital square
was boarded up. In Lansing, Michigan, police with dogs patrolled on foot, and a
helicopter hovered overhead. In Atlanta, armored vehicles were stationed on
Security in Washington, D.C., has also intensified ahead of the
inauguration. Tall fencing surrounds the U.S. Capitol, the National Mall is
closed to the general public, and the District of Columbia's mayor asked people
not to visit. Some 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country were
due in the city by early in the week. On Sunday, National Guard troops who have
already arrived were stationed outside the Capitol with officers from the
Customs and Border Protection as well as other federal police.
In the states, some authorities said they had no specific indication that
demonstrations would occur, much less turn violent. Yet many state officials
vowed to be prepared, just in case. They said they did not want a repeat of the
mob's assault on the Capitol, which left a Capitol Police officer and four
others dead. Dozens of other officers were injured.
More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help
protect their state capitols and aid local law enforcement officers. Several
governors issued states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the
public until after Biden's inauguration day.
Some state legislatures also canceled sessions or pared back their work for
the coming week, citing security precautions. Texas is among the states closing
their capitol grounds through the inauguration.
"The Texas Department of Public Safety is aware of armed protests planned at
the Texas State Capitol this week and violent extremists who may seek to
exploit constitutionally protected events to conduct criminal acts," said Steve
McCraw, the agency's director.
More than 100 troopers in riot gear were stationed outside the Capitol in
Austin earlier this week as lawmakers began a new legislative session. In
Richmond, Virginia police braced for possible demonstrations early Sunday, with
security fencing erected around the Statehouse.
Even before the violence at the U.S. Capitol, some statehouses had been the
target of vandals and angry protesters during the past year.
Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to
coronavirus-related lockdowns and were confronted by police. People angered
over the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer
pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes, vandalized capitols in
several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.
And just last month, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the state
Capitol in Salem to protest its closure to the public during a special
legislative session on coronavirus measures.
Anticipating the potential for violence in the coming week, the building's
first floor windows were boarded up and the National Guard has been deployed.
The Legislature was scheduled to begin its 2021 session on Tuesday, but much of
its initial work has been delayed for at least two days because of warnings
about potential violence.
'The state Capitol has become a fortress," said Oregon Senate President
Peter Courtney, a Democrat. "I never thought I'd see that; it breaks my heart."