U.S. capitals are preparing for possible attacks on their legislation in the coming days, much like the U.S. Capitol uprising last week, in the hope that a greater law enforcement presence and additional security measures will prevent the worst.
The FBI sent an internal memo on Sunday warning all 50 states that “armed protests” are being planned by right-wing extremists in their capitals, potentially re-creating what happened in Washington, DC on January 6th is. As a result, state capital buildings are on “high alert” as local law enforcement agencies and, in some cases, state National Guard forces mobilize.
It’s an alarming situation, but each of the 26 state law enforcement agencies I called – some of them the city police, others the state capital security team – said they were prepared, although most would not reveal their plans.
“We are definitely planning more [activity] than normal, “said Lt. Krag Campbell of the Juneau Police Department in Alaska.
“We are ready to respond appropriately, as we have always done in the past,” said Lt. Mark Riley of the Georgia State Patrol. “Our primary concern will always be the safety of everyone working on or visiting the Capitol grounds.”
Each state responds in its own way with little federal support, partly because the threat to some states is greater than to others. For example, there is information that the capital cities of Minnesota and Michigan face a credible threat of violence, while the FBI doesn’t believe Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts or Rhode Island will see any major riot.
However, all states are preparing for the possibility of violence.
All states say they are ready, but some states are more at risk than others
Just like the U.S. Capitol, all 50 states have increased police presence related to their legislations.
In Connecticut, State Capitol Police Department spokesman Scott Driscoll announced that K9 teams have been conducting additional security checks on government buildings and increasing the number of visible forces inside and outside of those locations. In addition, bicycle rails were installed on the north and south sides of the Capitol building, creating a barrier between potential rioters and law enforcement agencies.
Meanwhile, Michigan State Police spokesman Shanon Banner said that while the force does not normally comment on their pre-riot planning, “I can confirm that we have become more visible out of caution [police] Presence in the Capitol, and these resources will last for at least the next few weeks. “On Tuesday, the Michigan State Capitol Commission banned the open carrying of guns in the building.
And Arizona put up fences around the Capitol complex, told me Kameron Lee, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety. This move, along with an increased law enforcement presence, was also made “out of caution”.
Minnesota is one state that may face the greatest threat. In response, Democrat Governor Tim Walz activated the state’s National Guard on Tuesday. This force plans to be on duty this weekend to help local law enforcement agencies protect the Capitol.
“We will always support the Minnesotans’ first adjustment right to peaceful protest, but anyone involved in violent, illegal activity will be held accountable,” Walz said at the time. “We are tracking reports and closely monitoring the situation to improve our response and change tactics as necessary.”
Fortunately, not every state is facing a potentially inflammatory weekend. Along with the New England states mentioned above, officials in Kentucky, Hawaii and Kansas told me that they currently have no evidence of future violence. Of course, she and others are still planning the worst – just in case.
“We have the manpower,” said Lt. Terry Golightley of the Kansas Capitol Police, “and we will have additional support officers in the legislature.” Juneau Police Department’s Campbell also said the department has increased its patrol presence along the city’s streets, which are typically no more than seven officers.
The hope is that all of these preparations actually work. When violent rioters invade state capitals, there should be enough law enforcement officers to prevent them from causing harm. However, if those preparations fail, the nation could see scenes similar to Washington, DC last week.
Support Vox explanatory journalism
At Vox, we want to answer your most important questions every day and provide you and our audiences around the world with information that empowers you through understanding. Vox’s work reaches more people than ever before, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism is consuming resources. Your financial contribution is not a donation, but it does allow our staff to continue offering free articles, videos, and podcasts to everyone who needs them. Please consider contributing to Vox today, starting at $ 3.