Harrisburg/Lansing: U.S. state capitols are still under tight protection on Sunday, with law enforcement officers surpassing Trump supporters, who gathered to protest the president’s false claims that he won the 2020 election. The authorities fear that violent demonstrations will occur.
More than a dozen states have activated the National Guard to help protect their Capitol. The deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 6 made right-wing extremists timid.
Security officials had eyed Sunday as the first major flashpoint, as the anti-government “boogaloo” movement made plans weeks ago to hold rallies in all 50 states.
But by Sunday evening, only small gatherings of demonstrators had taken to the streets alongside much larger crowds of law-enforcement officers and media personnel.
“It was a non-event today and we are glad it was,” said Troy Thompson, spokesman for the Department of General Services, the agency that protects the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg.
Thousands of security personnel from the National Guard, and tens of thousands of law enforcement agencies in Washington, DC, dropped in recent days to strengthen the safety lead of the Wednesday ceremony, when the Democratic president-elect Biden will relieve the departure of Republican President Donald Tron general.
The image of Washington as a fort has made the United States uneasy about the traditionally peaceful transfer of power.
It is not clear that the warnings and strong security presence issued by the FBI across the country on Sunday caused protesters to cancel the plan.
Some militias and extremist groups tell their followers to stay at home with increased security or the risk that planned events are law enforcement traps.
Only a few Trump supporters showed up in Harrisburg, including Alex, a 34-year-old plasterboard trimmer from Hershey, Pennsylvania, who was attacked by the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Siege, but did not break into the building. He refused to reveal his last name.
Wearing a hoodie emblazoned with “Fraud 2020,” he said he believed November’s presidential election was stolen and wanted to show his support for Trump. He noted the lack of protesters at the Pennsylvania capitol on Sunday.
“There’s nothing going on,” Alex said.
Police later opened streets that had been blocked off in anticipation of bigger crowds.
A similarly small group of about a dozen protesters, a few armed with rifles, stood outside Michigan’s capitol in Lansing. One wore fatigue pants, a tactical vest and blue Hawaiian shirt, a trademark of the anti-government boogaloo movement.
“I am not here to be violent and I hope no one shows up to be violent,” said one man standing on the lawn in front of the capitol. The man, who refused to give his name, wore a “Make America Great Again” hat and waving a “Don’t tread on me” flag.
By early evening, the capitol grounds in Lansing were deserted.