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DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries

DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries
© Greg Nash

Washington, D.C., was quiet and state capitals across the country reported a few small protests Sunday as cities beefed up security and locked down capitol buildings for fear of widespread and violent protests.

Small groups of demonstrators, some holding guns and rifles, gathered at several of the state capitol buildings that had been fortified and surrounded by law enforcement and National Guard members. There were no reports of any clashes as the sun set, The Associated Press reported. 

The security levels in state capitals had been increased after the FBI warned that armed groups planned to descend on Washington, D.C., and at all 50 capitol buildings in the days leading up to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE’s inauguration. 

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Some state capitols had their windows boarded up, and several had security fences erected as additional law enforcement monitored activity.

But the cities saw quiet streets or about one to two dozen protesters gathered outside capitols, with some demonstrators backing President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE and others showing up to support the Second Amendment.

About 20 people showed up in Michigan, about two dozen in Ohio, fewer than a dozen in Oregon and about a dozen in Texas, among other small groups in other state capitals, according to the AP.

In Florida, five men appeared in Tallahassee, with some wearing military-style vests and Hawaiian shirts that are associated with the boogaloo movement, The Washington Post reported, adding that Utah, California and Arizona saw similar scenes. 

A dozen boogaloo members carrying rifles and handguns were present in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reported. In Texas, demonstrators gathered for a scaled-back protest that had been planned for months "to [preach] the message of individual liberty,” according to Texas Public Radio.

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The planned “armed march” in the nation's capital ended up not taking place on Sunday as expected. Officials arrested one armed man after midnight for allegedly carrying a handgun and ammunition near the Capitol. A woman was arrested later in the morning after police said she attempted to drive past a checkpoint while claiming to be a member of both law enforcement and the president's Cabinet.

More than a third of governors requested assistance from the National Guard ahead of Sunday to secure the capitols in the days leading up to inauguration, while several governors declared states of emergency. Some states closed their capitol buildings to the public, and some legislatures limited their work for the next few days, according to the AP.

The high security comes after a pro-Trump mob raided the Capitol building on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s election win. The riot resulted in at least five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer, and more than 125 arrests.