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How key states plan to secure their capital buildings ahead of possible armed pro-Trump protests



(CNN) States across the country are stepping up security at their capital buildings ahead of what the FBI has warned that “armed protests” are planned in all 50 capitals.

An internal FBI bulletin obtained by CNN warns that armed protests are planned at the state capitals from Saturday until at least the inauguration day next Wednesday. The bulletin also suggests that there are threats of a “revolt” if Trump is removed before then.

A complicated concern is that the FBI̵

7;s bulletin was not published, but was leaked to journalists. Federal law enforcement has not yet held a press conference describing the Capitol attack or planning to secure the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. And the purge of Twitter and Facebook accounts that promote violent protests has made it difficult for the public to understand the scale of the problem.

The astonishing warning, just days after a pro-Trump mob forcibly took over the U.S. Capitol, is pushing states to increase security in the event of a similar such attack on state capitals. Although many capitals are closed due to coronavirus restrictions, the warnings are particularly poignant in states that allow people to openly carry firearms or those where President Trump has wrongly claimed fraud.

Here’s a look at how several states at the center of Trump’s false allegations of fraud are preparing:

Michigan bans open-carry at the Capitol

Protesters carrying weapons gathered at the Michigan Capitol on May 14, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan.

In Michigan, the state Capitol Commission openly banned the transportation of firearms inside the state Capitol building in Lansing from Monday.

The move was a response to the U.S. Capitol uprising as well as the spring events, in which heavily armed protesters rallied inside the Capitol state to protest pandemic-related lockdowns. In addition, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, the target of an alleged domestic terror conspiracy by members of right-wing militia groups.

However, the policy change only affects public areas inside the building and does not change policy on the Capitol site, nor does it prohibit licensed concealed gun carriers that comply with state laws, under Commission policy.

“The Capitol Commission’s action to ban open arms at the Capitol is a good start, but more action is needed,” Whitmer said in a statement Monday.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warned that the commission’s rule does not mean the Capitol is safe.

“My job is not to give government employees and residents or other visitors to our Capitol a false sense of security, especially given the current situation in Michigan and across the country,” she said in a tweet. “I repeat – the Michigan Capitol is not safe.”

Shanon Banner, a spokesman for Michigan State Police, said they are aware of the march against state capitals being promoted online and they will continue to keep an eye on security threats.

“Our safety planning is fluid and adjustments are made as needed from day to day,” Banner said. “Security improvements that can be put in place include both seen and unseen measures. In general, we do not discuss security measures, but I can confirm that from an abundance of caution we are increasing our visible presence at the Capitol for the next few weeks starting today.”

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor also asked the Whitmer government to activate the Michigan National Guard to provide additional security and crowd control measures around the state Capitol on Sunday and on inauguration day.

“Last week’s horrific scene on Capitol Hill was an attack on our democracy and shows that we need to be adequately prepared for acts of violence when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as our 46th President of the United States.”

Wisconsin approves the state National Guard

Workers begin boarding the Wisconsin State Capitol building in Madison on Monday.

Government Tony Evers has authorized the state National Guard to support the Capitol Police in Madison, the governor’s office said in a news release Monday.

“Members of the Wisconsin National Guard will mobilize to declare an active duty to support the security and safety efforts of the State Capitol in Madison,” the release read. “The Wisconsin National Guard will serve as a support role for local authorities and conduct an on-site security mission.”

According to the release, the troops are trained in responding to requests for assistance at short notice and are part of the Wisconsin National Guard Reaction Force.

“The mobilized troops will serve in a state active service in support of the Capitol Police. To protect operational security, the Wisconsin National Guard will not discuss troop numbers, movements, timelines, equipment, tactics or procedures.”

Additionally, windows on the first floor of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison were boarded up Monday ahead of potential protests.

Pennsylvania says the Capitol is closed to the public

Pennsylvania Government spokeswoman Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said they were aware of the planned protests but noted that the state Capitol Complex in Harrisburg has been closed to the public since December due to the pandemic.

“Capitol police will continue to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to maintain peace at the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg,” said Press Secretary Lyndsay Kensinger.

Gov. Wolf said Thursday that about 1,000 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard have been activated to support the DC National Guard in support of civilian authorities in Washington DC. The Pennsylvania National Guard has a total of about 19,000 members.

“Pennsylvania Guard members are well-educated and well-prepared to help our community, the Commonwealth, and the country in any way they can,” said Acting Adjutant-Major General Mark Schindler. “We are also very fortunate that our Guard members have extensive experience working with the DC National Guard as part of previous training events and presidential appointments.”

Georgia opens legislative meeting with certainty

Georgia State Troopers stand guard in front of the Capitol on the first day of the Atlanta legislative session on Monday.

Georgia’s state capital, Atlanta, has already seen protests raising security concerns. Last week, Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was helped out of the Capitol as a precaution when a small group of pro-Trump protesters gathered outside, according to CNN-affiliated WXIA.

The state began its legislative meeting in 2021 Monday with increased security around the building, including a new fence and armed guards.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said it is aware of reports of possible armed protests in the coming days.

“We are in communication with our partners and will continue to do what is necessary to ensure security,” said GBI Director of Public Affairs Nelly Miles.

Atlanta police said they are also working with their partners on security.

“The City of Atlanta Police Department (APD) continues to coordinate with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to respond if protests or illegal activity should occur. If activity begins to occur, the APD is prepared to respond quickly. We do not share “Operational or security plans. However, the safety of our city and its citizens is our priority,” police said.

CNN’s Amanda Watts, Zachary Cohen, Whitney Wild, Lauren del Valle, Caroline Kelly, Rob Frehse, Raja Razek, Alec Snyder and Jason Morris contributed to this report.




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