State House Security Beefed Up, Inauguration Travel Discouraged Amid Nationwide Threats

Photo by Elliott Davis/CNS

Maryland officials said security will be heightened around the State House and capital complex, as the FBI warned Monday of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., in the days ahead.

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) confirmed the heightened security at a State House news conference, but did not go into detail.

Days after a deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump, the FBI bulletin warns of nationwide protests in the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Associated Press reported.

The armed protests are being planned in Washington and in state capitals between Jan. 16 and Jan. 20, according to the AP.

The Maryland General Assembly reconvenes on Wednesday. Because of COVID-19, access to the capital complex is severely curtailed, limited mostly to lawmakers, a small number of staff, and media.

Asked at a news conference Monday about the possibility that the State House could be targeted by angry protesters, Hogan said, “We are taking additional security measures here at the Maryland State House and the capital complex.”

He went on to describe what Maryland police officers and National Guard troops are doing to help secure Capitol Hill and Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Maryland has deployed National Guard members to D.C. to help protect the U.S. Capitol. The Maryland State Police Mobile Field Force, a specially trained team of troopers, remains on alert and is available for immediate deployment to D.C., spokesman Greg Shipley said Monday. Local Maryland police were deployed to D.C. last Wednesday as well.

Hogan, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued a joint statement on Monday discouraging crowds from heading into D.C. for Inauguration Day.

“On January 20, there will be a transition of power, and we will work together, and with our partners in the federal government, to ensure the safety of the National Capital Region,” the leaders said. “Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including last week’s violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C. and to instead participate virtually.”

The statement was released after a joint call between the leaders in which they stressed the need for enhanced planning and preparation compared to previous inaugurations given the chaos and bloodshed at the U.S. Capitol.

“In this very trying time, January 6 was a dark moment for our nation. But we know that we will get through this period because American ideals are stronger than one extreme ideology. Together, we will overcome extremism and get back to the work of our residents,” the leaders said.

Maryland Capitol Police could not be immediately reached for comment about State House security on Monday.

Shipley said the Maryland State Police is aware of the online threats and remains in “constant contact” with federal authorities “regarding any potential events with a criminal nexus in Annapolis.”

“If such an event is scheduled, the Maryland State Police will work in support of the Maryland Capitol Police, Annapolis Police Department, Anne Arundel County Police and other public safety agencies to ensure adequate law enforcement resources are available to address any violations of law,” Shipley said.

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Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.