Reports of possible violent demonstrations over the weekend have prompted state governors to take action in anticipation of any potential unrest, such as deploying the National Guard, declaring states of emergency and closing capitols.
The riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 seared an unsettling image into the national consciousness, and state administrations are seeking to avoid similar mayhem in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.
The FBI has warned of potential violence at all state capitols over the weekend, saying that it is tracking an “extensive amount of concerning online chatter.”
A number of states have deployed up to 1,000 National Guard members to the nation’s capital in D.C. to defend it, but they have also ramped up measures at home. Most have deployed local and state law enforcement or declared a state of emergency, but others have gone even further to secure capitol buildings.
Here are some of the states that are taking the most aggressive action to prepare for possible violence.
Just days after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, California saw clashes across the state between pro-Trump demonstrators and counter-protesters, with San Diego police declaring the gathering in their city an “unlawful assembly.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom has moved quickly to boost security around his state’s capitol.
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Newsom deployed up to 1,000 National Guard members and established a chain-link fence around the capitol building in Sacramento — the latest measure the state has implemented during an extended period of unrest.
“We’re treating this very seriously and deploying significant resources to protect public safety, critical infrastructure and First Amendment rights,” Newsom said in a video message. “But let me be clear: There will be no tolerance for violence.”
Florida state senators spent an hour behind closed doors on Monday this week for a classified security briefing, according to News 4 Jax.
Those briefings appear to have led to several strong measures, including possibly the total closure of the cfapitol.
“Florida House Speaker @ChrisSprowls also telling his chamber’s staff to not work from the Florida Capitol this weekend due to potential violence,” tweeted Matt Dixon of Politico. The state senate reportedly took a similar step.
Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the National Guard on Friday, deploying them through Jan. 24 “or such time as the assistance of state and local government authorities is complete,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The state — having dealt with regular armed protests and a possible kidnapping plot this year — has gone to great lengths to establish extensive protections ahead of the weekend. Crews installed a 6-foot fence around the Michigan capitol and boarded up ground-level windows of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office nearby.
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“We are prepared for the worst, but we remain hopeful that those who choose to demonstrate at our capitol do so peacefully, without violence or destruction of property,” Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper said Friday.
The state police will maintain a heightened presence at the statehouse at least through mid-February, according to Gaspar.
Gov. Phil Murphy pushed to move all operations online ahead of the inauguration, citing a “general threat.”
State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan also said there has been “significant communication” with federal, state and local officials in advance of Biden’s inauguration.
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“At this time, no specific or credible threat, but we are postured and prepared to respond with all of those partners should that need arise,” Callahan said at a news conference Friday.
Murphy also said that his decision was based on the “level of tension in the country.”
Gov. Mike DeWine has taken strong action to secure his state’s capitol for the week ahead.
In addition to closing the capitol and all state buildings in Columbus until after the inauguration, DeWine has activated hundreds of National Guard members.
“The sad truth is that there are people in our country who want to turn peaceful protests into an opportunity for violence,” DeWine said at a news briefing. “These are violent people, and their violence will not be tolerated in Ohio.”
Adj. Gen. John Harris, the head of the Ohio Guard, said the force is prepared to handle whatever comes its way.
“We’re the fifth-largest National Guard in the country, so we have a significant set of capabilities available to us and to the governor,” Harris said during the briefing.
The Pennsylvania capitol complex has already been closed to the general public as a coronavirus safety measure.
However, the state will fully close access to the capitol buildings for a couple of days that coincide with Biden’s inauguration.
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Employees were advised to take the days off.
“While we are not aware of any specific threats at this time, we want to act with an abundance of caution to keep employees safe,” Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said on its website.
The state’s capitol was already closed to the public because of coronavirus, but Gov. Tony Evers has pushed to take greater caution after the riot in D.C.
Evers activated the National Guard to help with security, and he has ordered the windows of capitol buildings boarded up.
He also told those who have recently been working inside the buildings to work remotely for the rest of the month.
Acting Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl said that the state was preparing for potential violence but that there were “no specific, direct threats to Madison at this point.”
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“Because of the national mood, because of the larger national intelligence picture, and out of an abundance of caution we will continue to maintain an enhanced staffing posture through Inauguration Day,” Wahl said, according to WPR.
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.