California Ramps Up Security at State Capitol Ahead of Possible Protest
SACRAMENTO — State and local law enforcement agencies are ramping up security measures around the state Capitol in the wake of last week’s deadly and bloody insurrection in Washington, D.C. by rioters who sought to keep President Trump in office.
With the FBI warning of plans for armed protests in Washington and all 50 state capitals ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week, Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he is prepared to call in the California National Guard if needed to maintain peace in Sacramento.
“Everybody is on high alert in terms of just making sure that everybody is safe and protected, people’s free speech can be advanced but there’s no violence,” Newsom said at a news conference Monday. “I can assure you, we have a heightened, heightened level of security.”
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, told Uken Report the security presence at the state capitol is palpable.
“We returned to Sacramento this week completely focused on the urgent legislative agenda before us. Our small businesses, frontline workers, students, teachers, seniors, veterans, and families are relying on us to extend much-needed relief,” Eduardo said. “My chief concern is ensuring that we equitably distribute pandemic resources, safeguard our most vulnerable populations, and take swift action on our community’s policy priorities.”
The security presence is felt at the State Capitol, Garcia said.
“Given the violent uproar of this past week in Washington D.C., additional protective measures have been put in place to ensure safety. I have every confidence in our Legislative leadership, our Sergeants, public safety officers, and all of our State Capitol security professionals as we uphold our legislative responsibilities.”
All legislative offices have been implementing serious health and safety precautions, Garcia said. “Our team remains accessible, working remotely to deliver safe, quality services to residents. For assistance, we can be reached at our Coachella (760) 347-2360, Capitol (916) 319-2056, or Imperial (760) 355-8656 offices.”
Alisa Buckley, the Chief Sergeant at Arms, told Uken Report, “Any potential threat to the safety of the Assembly is taken very seriously. In light of recent armed protests at the U.S. Capitol, additional security measures are being implemented in the Assembly, though we will not be disclosing the nature of those security measures publicly.”
Since the election, Trump supporters have been gathering weekly at the state Capitol to object to what they falsely claim was a fraudulent outcome. Capital Public Radio reported that the events, for which organizers did not obtain permits, have frequently devolved into clashes between the far-right militia group Proud Boys and antifa counterprotesters.
A demonstration Jan. 6 to challenge Congress’ certification of Biden’s victory included several small skirmishes on the fringes, but ultimately ended without widespread violence. Across the country, however, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving four rioters and a member of the Capitol Police dead and heightening concerns about additional bloodshed in the weeks ahead.
A group called Let Freedom Ring has sought a permit to hold an event Sunday at the state Capitol for 3,000 people “to peacefully protest our compromised election,” register voters and collect signatures to recall Newsom. Additional information about the demonstration or who is behind it is not readily available online.
In a statement, a spokesperson said the CHP was coordinating with local law enforcement agencies, but declined to discuss what additional safety protocols it was taking.
“Officers are always vigilant for potential threats that may occur at the State Capitol,” Officer John Ortega, a spokesperson for the CHP’s Capitol Protection Section, said in an email. “We have personnel ready to respond to protect state property and ensure public safety as necessary.”
Barricades have kept the public away from the Capitol building since May, following a demonstration against coronavirus restrictions in which attendees confronted law enforcement officers and some tried to break through a line of officers guarding the entrance.
The security teams for both houses of the Legislature said they have boosted safety protocols, but declined to say how.
- California Capitol: Pixaby