WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Fencing, boarded-up windows and lines of police and National Guard troops have transformed statehouse grounds and the U.S. Capitol ahead of potentially violent demonstrations over the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The stepped-up security Sunday comes after FBI warnings of potential armed protests at all 50 state capitols and in Washington, D.C. The safeguards will remain in place leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The incresaed 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 mob supporting President Donald Trump swarmed the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote.
Security in Washington, D.C., has intensified ahead of the inauguration. Anti-scale 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.
At least 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country were due in the city earlier 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.
More than a third of governors 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 states were expecting protests ahead of Inauguration Day. About two dozen people, several carrying long guns, protested outside the Ohio Statehouse, observed by several of the dozens of state troopers positioned around the building. Several dozen people — some carrying American flags — gathered at South Carolina’s Statehouse. And at Michigan’s Capitol, a small group of demonstrators, some armed, stood near a chain-link fence surrounding the building as state police walked the grounds and National Guard vehicles were parked nearby.
“If you are going to come down to the Capitol and demonstrate peacefully, then we will provide that safe space for you,” said Col. Joe Gasper, the head of Michigan State Police. “If you are coming to the Capitol to engage in some nefarious activity, then we are also very well prepared to address that.”
In Utah, a lone protestor sat on top of the state capitol Saturday to protest the election results. Pete Liacopoulos sat outside all day, wrapped up in winter gear, holding his flags and sign.
Here are some of the precautions being taken by states as of Sunday morning:
- California — activated the National Guard
- Delaware — issued an executive order surrounding inauguration activities in the state and D.C.
- Florida — Tallahassee’s Mayor has asked for the deployment of the National Guard
- Illinois — National Guard has been activated to protect state capitol
- Indiana — The State Complex will be closed beginning Tuesday, National Guard deployed to D.C.
- Kentucky — increased security at the Capitol including the National Guard
- Maryland — declared a state of emergency
- Michigan — activated the National Guard
- Minnesota — activated the National Guard
- Nevada — directed the National Guard to assemble a quick response team
- New England — deployed National Guard to help in D.C.
- New Mexico — declared state of emergency Saturday
- North Carolina — activated the National Guard in the state and to help D.C.
- Ohio — activated National Guard to protect state capitol
- Oregon — activated National Guard to protect state capitol
- Pennsylvania — activated National Guard to protect state and D.C.
- Texas — state capitol is closed beginning Saturday
- Utah — state of emergency declared, National Guard on standby
- Virginia — deployed National Guard to help in D.C.
- Wisconsin — deployed National Guard to D.C.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report