cloudy.png
Sunday June 20th, 2021 2:13PM

State capitols reassess safety after violence at US Capitol

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The insurrection by supporters of President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol this week has prompted governors and lawmakers in several states to heighten security at their own capitol buildings as they gather amid a pandemic for legislative sessions and inaugural ceremonies.

Like the U.S. Capitol, statehouses are regular targets for demonstrations. Many already have armed security personnel and metal detectors that screen visitors.

But if the U.S. Capitol — a shining symbol of democracy with a dedicated police force— can be overrun by a violent mob, could state capitols be next?

This week's events were “a wakeup call for everybody, both in D.C. and in state capitals all across the country,” said Washington state Rep. J.T. Wilcox, the chamber's Republican leader.

A series of smaller-scale flare-ups occurred last year at state capitols. Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to pandemic-related lockdowns. Some were blocked by police while demanding entry onto the House floor, while others shouted down from the Senate gallery.

In Ohio, people upset about the death of George Floyd in Minnesota smashed 28 windows at the statehouse.

Protesters in Idaho temporarily derailed a special legislative session last August. And just a few weeks ago, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the Capitol to protest its closure to the public during a special legislative session on coronavirus measures.

On Friday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced he was activating up to 750 National Guard troops to join state police in patrolling the capitol in Olympia on Monday, when lawmakers return to session. He said an area will be set aside for demonstrators to hold rallies.

“But in light of the most recent insurrection activity, the state cannot tolerate any actions that could result in harm, mayhem or interruption of function of democratic institutions,” he said in a statement. “Any illegal intrusion of the Capitol, state buildings or restricted areas will not be tolerated and strictly enforced.”

A right-wing militia had encouraged its members to occupy the Capitol when lawmakers meet, and that intention was echoed by several people who broke down a gate outside the governor’s mansion on Wednesday, the day Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

An organizer of the planned occupation said in a later Facebook post that the event was canceled, although it's not clear whether others who share right-wing views plan to show up, anyway.

In neighboring Idaho, where lawmakers also are scheduled to meet Monday, State Police Col. Kedrick Wills said there will be an increased presence of uniformed state troopers at the statehouse. Anxieties are high for some lawmakers.

“We are being forced into one of the most dangerous workplaces in the state,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, noting a lack of COVID-19 protection efforts. “Now, layered onto that, we’re at a point where emotions are at their absolute peak and armed conspiracy theorists are ready to burn it all down.”

The vast majority of state legislatures are convening this month. Though some are allowing remote participation because of coronavirus precautions, others are proceeding with regular in-person committee hearings and floor debates.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said security has been increased around the statehouse in advance of the legislative session that begins next Wednesday. In Massachusetts, which started its legislative session this week, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Democratic legislative leaders issued a joint statement saying they were assessing the Capitol's security in light of events in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

In Oregon, where Trump supporters burned a life-size puppet of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday, lawmakers have pledged to review Capitol safety rules and potentially increase security for the session that begins Jan. 19.

State police that oversee the New Mexico statehouse have taken steps to coordinate security with local law enforcement agencies in case "gatherings become other than peaceful,” said state police spokesman Lt. Mark Soriano.

Some state officials are rethinking their Capitol gun policies. In Michigan, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said Thursday that he would support a ban on the open carrying of firearms in the Capitol. Minority party Democratic lawmakers want to prohibit all guns in the building.

By contrast, some Texas lawmakers are talking of bringing more guns into the Capitol to protect themselves. Licensed handgun owners already can carry firearms into the Capitol, and some lawmakers have been known to wear guns in the chamber.

“Pretty sure more #txlege members are going to start carrying inside the Capitol,” Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain tweeted Thursday, a day after the Capitol grounds were abruptly shuttered as hundreds of Trump supporters demonstrated outside without any reported incidents.

The Republican Party of Texas was to hold another long-planned rally at the Capitol on Saturday to draw attention to legislative priorities.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is planning for more than a thousand guests to gather Monday on the lawn of the state Capitol for his inaugural ceremony. Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O'Connell said plans have been in the works for months to provide “extensive security and crowd-control."

As a mob stormed the nation's capitol Wednesday, supporters and opponents of Trump also clashed outside the Ohio statehouse. Video footage showed multiple people in a street fight. Another violent altercation involving several people broke out later on the statehouse grounds, until law enforcement officers moved to separate the groups.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he could not promise that the statehouse wouldn't be breached like the U.S. Capitol.

“No one can say they’re confident,” DeWine said, adding: “We’re certainly aware that something could happen.”

Some states already had stepped up security before the violence in the nation's capital.

A fence remains at the Minnesota Capitol after being erected last summer amid the unrest over Floyd's killing. It was in place Wednesday when around 500 Trump supporters held what was billed as a “Storm the Capitol” rally — a noisy but peaceful gathering with no arrests. State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said increased security staffing will continue for the immediate future.

Colorado's Capitol also remains encircled by fencing, with concrete barriers to block vehicles and its ground floor windows boarded up after vandals damaged it following Floyd's death. Officials already planned to install stronger fencing, more security cameras and bullet-resistant glass for windows. Legislative leaders are focusing on any needed additional measures after the events in Washington, said Bella Combest, spokeswoman for the Senate Democratic leadership.

Police at the Mississippi Capitol are moving forward with a previously planned purchase of more security cameras and new machines to scan bags. The New Jersey statehouse is in the midst of a multi-year, $300 million renovation, with security listed as a top reason.

After the U.S. Capitol siege, New Jersey state Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, leader of the chamber's minority Republicans, raised concerns about security in public buildings.

“It is very difficult to understand how protestors were able to gain access to the Chamber in the Capitol," Bramnick said in a tweet. “This is a very dangerous scenario that may encourage others to violate the law.”

——

Associated Press writers James Anderson in Denver; Michael Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey; Sara Cline in Salem, Oregon; Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington; Steve LeBlanc in Boston; Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Anna Nichols in Lansing, Michigan; Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; Paul Weber in Austin, Texas; Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio; and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
State capitols reassess safety after violence at US Capitol
Some governors and state lawmakers are reassessing security at state capitols across the country after the violence that occurred this week at the U.S. Capitol
4:12PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Study suggests Pfizer vaccine works against virus variant
New research suggests the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech can still work against a mutated coronavirus
4:12PM ( 6 minutes ago )
State lawmaker charged after entering Capitol with rioters
The U.S. Justice Department says it has charged a West Virginia state lawmaker with entering a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol after he livestreamed himself with rioters
4:11PM ( 7 minutes ago )
U.S. News
The Latest: Memphis women's hoops has 5th game affected
The Memphis women’s basketball home game against Wichita State scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Shockers program
3:46PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Trump to skip Biden swearing-in — Biden's fine with that
President Donald Trump says he won’t attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, and Biden says he's just fine with that, calling it “one of the few things we have ever agreed on."
3:37PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Pelosi seeks to curb Trump's nuclear power, plans to impeach
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about preventing President Donald Trump from ordering a nuclear strike in his final days in office
3:33PM ( 44 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Graham heckled by Trump supporters at airport
Supporters of President Donald Trump have harangued Sen. Lindsey Graham at an airport, accusing the South Carolina Republican of being a “traitor” for laying blame on the Capitol Hill siege at the president’s feet
2:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
Phone-theft accuser says she is 'super sweet,' sees no crime
A woman who wrongly accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone and tackled him at a New York City hotel has apologized but says she does not think she committed a crime
2:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: No. 3 Senate Dem urges Hawley and Cruz to resign
The third-ranking Democrat in the U_S_ Senate is calling on Republican Sens_ Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to resign, arguing that their objections to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory “incited and supported the violent mob that attacked the Capitol.”
2:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Can Trump be charged with inciting a riot? Legal bar is high
President Donald Trump’s top White House lawyer has repeatedly warned the president that he could be held responsible for inciting Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol
2:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
Boston mayor, RI governor among Biden adds to economic team
President-elect Joe Biden has introduced the governor of Rhode Island, the mayor of Boston and a small-business advocate from California as the newest members of his economic team
2:44PM ( 1 hour ago )
Haley: Trump was 'badly wrong' in stoking crowd before riot
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has called President Donald Trump “badly wrong” in his comments that stoked his supporters to mount a violent assault on the Capitol this week
2:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: House Dems to introduce articles of impeachment
Three House Democrats are planning to introduce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Monday, meaning the chamber could potentially vote on his removal from office by midweek, according two people familiar with the planning
12:17PM ( 4 hours ago )
Pelosi asks top general about curbing Trump's military power
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about preventing President Donald Trump from initiating military actions or a nuclear strike
12:15PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Pelosi asks about preventing Trump military acts
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about preventing President Donald Trump from initiating military actions or a nuclear strike
12:02PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Study suggests Pfizer vaccine works against virus variant
New research suggests the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech can still work against a mutated coronavirus
4:12PM ( 6 minutes ago )
State lawmaker charged after entering Capitol with rioters
The U.S. Justice Department says it has charged a West Virginia state lawmaker with entering a restricted area of the U.S. Capitol after he livestreamed himself with rioters
4:11PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Victims in 2011 Giffords attack see parallel to Capitol riot
A decade ago, a gunman with paranoid schizophrenia killed six and injured 13 including Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
3:39PM ( 38 minutes ago )
LA, Congress take divergent paths after COVID test warning
The city of Los Angeles has said it will keep using a coronavirus test that federal regulators warned may produce false results while Congress, which has used the same test, is seeking an alternative
2:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
States to receive initial $3 billion infusion for vaccines
State and local governments will be receiving their first infusion of federal money to support vaccination efforts against the coronavirus
2:54PM ( 1 hour ago )