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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 
nation's Capitol.

   (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 
nation's Capitol.

   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 
Capitol grounds.

   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."

 
 
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