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State capitals come under siege by pro-Trump mobs

Protests at state capitals across the country turned threatening Wednesday as demonstrators entered legislative buildings and police escorted elected officials from their offices in response to violent threats.

The protests against the November presidential election results, fueled in large part by unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud that were repeated often by President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE and the White House, coincided with mob violence in the nation’s capital where Trump supporters overran U.S. Capitol Police and officers drew their firearms to protect lawmakers in the House and Senate.

In state capitals, police moved to protect elected officials who were threatened by pro-Trump mobs.

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Staffers at the Utah state Capitol were ordered to evacuate the building, wrote Bryan Schott, who covers the legislature for the Salt Lake Tribune. In Georgia, police escorted Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to safety as militia members gathered outside the Capitol building in Atlanta.

In Olympia, the perimeter of Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington bans open carry of weapons at state capitol, public protests Washington state to provide free menstrual hygiene products in school bathrooms Cuomo signs legislation restoring voting rights to felons upon release from prison MORE’s (D) mansion was breached by a large group of pro-Trump protesters. Inslee was home at the time, according to public radio reporter Austin Jenkins. The governor and his wife have been moved to a safe location.

Protesters at a rally in Salem burned Oregon Gov. Kate BrownKate Brown74 people linked to COVID-19 outbreak at Oregon church Businesses sue Oregon governor over COVID-19 restrictions White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states MORE (D) in effigy, as city police urged people to avoid the area around the statehouse. Fistfights broke out in Sacramento, where police struggled to contain clashes between dueling groups of demonstrators.

In Kansas, state police monitored a group of protesters who entered the statehouse in Topeka. The state Highway Patrol said they had no plans to increase security, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. The protesters later dispersed without incident.

Peaceful protests urging the overthrow of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Overnight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart MORE’s win in November gathered in Austin, Texas. Protests were calm and controlled in Little Rock, Ark., though some Trump supporters showed up with automatic firearms and riot shields.

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The protests underscored the rise of threatening confrontations that have taken place around state capital buildings in the past year, and especially in the midst of lockdowns caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

A group of armed militia members was arrested last year after the FBI uncovered a plot to arrest and hold hostage Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerCompany continues operating pipeline through Michigan despite governor's order Michigan Republican offers bill to fine fact-checkers for errors Michigan to end remote work after reaching 55 percent vaccination rate MORE (D). Protesters repeatedly stormed the state capital in Lansing, which was closed to the public when presidential electors met to cast ballots last month because of “credible threats of violence.”

Law enforcement officials have investigated threats against a state senator from Detroit, the Los Angeles County district attorney and a Washington, D.C., council member in recent months. Public officials in Idaho, Denver and Washington state have all been harassed in recent months.

Wednesday’s protests will be unsuccessful in their attempts to overturn Biden’s victory, which Congress is set to ratify Wednesday. Biden addressed the violent mob in remarks from Wilmington, Del.

“What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It is disorder. It is chaos. It borders on sedition,” Biden said. “To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, and to threaten the safety of duly elected officials is not protest, it is insurrection.”

Updated at 7:22 p.m.