Responding to warnings of potentially violent demonstrations, governors across the nation are calling out National Guard troops, declaring states of emergency and closing their capitols to the public ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week.
Though details remain murky, demonstrations are expected at state capitols beginning Sunday and leading up to Biden's succession of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. State officials hope to avoid the type of violence that occurred Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving a Capitol Police officer and four others dead.
The FBI has warned of the potential for violence at all state capitols and has said it is tracking an “ extensive amount of concerning online chatter, ” including calls for armed protests.
Governors across the country are sending thousands of National Guard troops to Washington, D.C., where the National Mall has been closed to the general public as part of an intense security effort. More than a dozen governors also have called out the Guard to protect their own state capitols and aid local law enforcement officers.
"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, as Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the Guard's role.
Crews installed a six-foot fence around the Michigan Capitol ahead of expected protests, and ground-level windows were boarded up at a nearby building that houses the governor’s office. Gasper said an increased state police presence would remain at the statehouse at least through mid-February.
Some windows also were boarded at capitols in Wisconsin and Illinois, both of which activated the National Guard to help with security. Though the Wisconsin Capitol already was closed to the public because of the coronavirus, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' administration told those who had been coming into the Capitol to instead work remotely for the rest of the month.
Law enforcement officials were reducing parking around the capitol building in Madison this weekend and urging people to avoid the area as they braced for potential unrest. There was only one known organized event for the day, an anti-fascist demonstration where free food, drinks and clothes were to be distributed.