- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2021

Virginia and Maryland are increasing security measures at their state houses following FBI warnings of possible armed protests at state capitols this weekend in the wake of last week’s deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Numerous law enforcement agencies in Virginia established a unified command Wednesday in Richmond as state lawmakers convened this year’s legislative session.

The multi-agency effort includes the Virginia State Police, the Division of Capitol Police, the Richmond Police Department, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, among others.

“Last week’s attack on the United States Capitol and recent credible threats of violence concerning capital cities in states nationwide underscore the importance of being prepared and vigilant to ensure public safety across the Virginia capital region,” the agencies said in a joint statement. “Any violation of law, non-peaceful demonstration, or attempts to intimidate fellow Virginians will not be tolerated. Those who engage in such behavior will be held accountable.”

Due to coronavirus concerns, the Virginia House of Delegates is meeting virtually, and the state Senate is meeting in a conference area at the the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. The same measures were taken last year during the session that was cut short by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Maryland lawmakers started their legislative session Wednesday. Gov. Larry Hogan said during a press conference that local and state law enforcement agencies, as well as the Maryland Capitol Police, are “beefing up” security plans at the state house in Annapolis.

Other states are implementing similar law enforcement measures after an internal FBI bulletin this week warned of possible armed protests at all state capitol buildings in the days leading up to and on Inauguration Day, The Associated Press reported.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the FBI bulletin stated.

Mr. Hogan said Wednesday that the Maryland had not yet received any “credible, detailed threats” but there has been “disinformation all over the internet.”

“A lot of this is real — and a lot of this is fake,” the governor said. “[W]e’re not sure what we may or may not see, [but] we’re going to be a lot better prepared than they were in Washington last Wednesday,”

Mr. Hogan also said the state is sending 1,000 National Guard troops to help with law enforcement at the U.S. Capitol ahead of the inauguration ceremony on Jan 20.

Last week, Mr. Hogan sent 500 Guardsmen to assist when the Capitol was mobbed by violent protestors as Congress was certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Thousands of armed soldiers from multiple states have been patrolling the Capitol and its grounds following the insurrection.

Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said Wednesday that up to 20,000 troops are expected to be in the “footprint of the District of Columbia” for the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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