Current News

/

ArcaMax

Police and National Guard brace for attacks in state capitals as FBI warns of ‘armed protests'

Richard Read and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

“A fence that was erected in large part as a response to the Black Lives Matter protests when there wasn’t any violence at the Capitol is now going to be used to protect us from the — I don’t even know what to call them — the Trumpists,” said state Rep. Teri Anulewicz, a Democrat from the suburb of Smyrna.

Anulewicz said “heavily armed” state troopers were “comforting, but it’s also concerning that this is where we are.”

She stopped wearing her name tag outside the Capitol after receiving more than 10,000 emails, some of them threatening, from Trump supporters across the country urging her not to let the election be “stolen” from the president.

“It’s chilling to know there is a real undercurrent to these threats — we saw it underscored in Washington,” Anulewicz said.

Arizona authorities have put up a temporary fence around their state Capitol, just as they did last summer during Black Lives Matter protests. Visitors can only enter by appointment.

“We already had a plan in place so we could be able to do this quickly,” said Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican from Prescott. “We hope we can get past this so we can take this down and let the people use their house safely.”

It “breaks my heart,” Fann said of the fence, which she called “ugly.” She said barring the public from the building was “un-American” but necessary given the security warnings.

 

Last Wednesday, several hundred people gathered outside the building, many of them armed, she said. But banning firearms from the area had not been suggested, she said, adding, “This is Arizona, so you know that’s not going to happen.”

In Salem, Oregon, dozens of police officers guarded the Capitol building as newly elected legislators took their oaths of office just weeks after right-wing protesters had stormed the building, attacking officers after a Republican lawmaker opened a locked door. The lawmaker has been stripped of his committee assignments and fined for the damage.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, mobilized National Guard troops in Olympia after about 200 Trump supporters marched from the Capitol on Jan. 6 and broke through a gate at his official residence, then protested on the front lawn.

Troops and officers at the state Capitol have far outnumbered demonstrators at protests this week. Conservative activist Jessica Karraker led a rally of about 100 people Sunday calling on lawmakers to limit Inslee’s emergency powers and to outlaw discrimination against people who decline COVID-19 vaccines. She criticized the increased security, saying it denied citizens access.

But Loftis, the state police spokesman, said the security enabled legislators to convene safely. “It would literally take an army to get into the Capitol building now,” he said.

©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.