American cities big and small have prepared for any potential unrest during Wednesday’s inaugural events amid threats of armed protests from extremist groups.
In Portland, Ore. — a city no stranger to protests in the wake of demonstrations and riots over the summer months — police said they had knowledge of online social media posts about possible events in the city, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said during a Tuesday press briefing.
“We want to ensure people can come out. Exercise their rights to assemble and to speak. We realize that this time of year, Inauguration, can be an emotional time for many,” Lovell said. “We’re hopeful that no crimes will be committed … but if that’s not the case we’ll do everything in our power to make arrests and hold people accountable.”
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Lovell added that Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is monitoring several events, such as one that is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. local time.
“We’ve canceled days off for all sworn members here at Portland Police Bureau. This will help us assure we have additional resources on hand,” he said.
Lovell asked that residents with non-urgent police matters report their issues through the police department’s website, or consider whether their concerns can wait until Thursday. He said PPB would provide updates throughout the day via its Twitter.
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Cities less acquainted with riots featuring violence and destruction, such as Jefferson City, Mo., are also bolstering patrols in preparation.
According to local news station 5 On Your Side, the capital city has no knowledge of Inauguration Day protests but has deployed heavier security as a precautionary measure, including more state park rangers and state troopers at the State Capitol.
And in Tallahassee, Fla., Gov. Ron DeSantis has the Army National Guard on standby in the event they are needed on Wednesday, according to local WFTV. Meanwhile, the county courthouse and City Hall were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Security has been stepped up since earlier this month when the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Over the weekend, crowds of only a dozen or two demonstrated at some boarded-up, cordoned-off statehouses, while the streets in many other capital cities remained empty. Some protesters said they were there to back outgoing President Trump. Others said they had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or decry government overreach.
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The security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The attack left a Capitol police officer and four others dead. More than 125 people have been arrested over the insurrection.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.