HARRISBURG, Pa./LANSING, Mich. (Reuters) – Law enforcement officers far outnumbered protesters at state capitol grounds on Sunday, as few Trump supporters who believe the president’s false claim that he won the 2020 election turned out for what authorities feared could be violent demonstrations.
More than a dozen states activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed demonstrations, with right-wing extremists emboldened by the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.
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.
Tens of thousands of security personnel from the National Guard and law-enforcement agencies descended in recent days upon Washington, D.C., to bolster security ahead of Wednesday’s ceremony, when Democratic President-elect Joe Biden will relieve departing Republican President Donald Trump.
The image of Washington as a fortress has unsettled U.S. pride over the traditionally peaceful transfer of power.
It was unclear how much the FBI warning and robust security presence around the country on Sunday led protesters to cancel plans.
Some militias and extremist groups told followers to stay home, citing the increased security or the risk that the planned events were law-enforcement traps.
Only a few Trump supporters showed up in Harrisburg, including Alex, a 34-year-old drywall finisher from Hershey, Pennsylvania, who said he had been at the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol but did not storm the building. He declined to give his last name. Read More