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Heavy fortified statehouses around the US see small protests

January 18, 2021 12:03 pm
Members of the Washington National Guard stand at a sundial near the Legislative Building. [Source: The Associated Press]

Small groups of right-wing protesters, some of them carrying rifles gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country.

Outnumbered by National Guard troops and police brought in to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol.

As darkness began to fall, there were no reports of any clashes.

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Security was stepped up in recent days after 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 on Wednesday.

Crowds of only a dozen or two people 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 President Donald Trump.

Others said they had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or oppose government overreach.

As the day wore on with no bloodshed around the U.S., a sense of relief spread among officials, though they were not ready to let their guard down.

The heavy law enforcement presence may have kept turnout down. In the past few days, some extremists had warned others against falling into what they called a law enforcement trap.

Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis said he hoped the apparently peaceful day reflected some soul-searching among Americans.

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