ATLANTA - State capitols across the nation stepped up security this week, deploying National Guard units, SWAT teams, and extra police officers while several legislatures convened amid heightened safety concerns following last week's violence at the U.S. Capitol.
The protections came as the FBI issued a bulletin warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.
Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order extending the readiness of the Georgia National Guard to respond to threats to state properties. On Tuesday, he held a joint press conference with Major General Thomas Carden, Adjutant General of the Georgia Department of Defense; and Colonel Chris Wright, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, in the Rotunda to addressed security concerns.
"I want to assure everyone from legislators, staff, visitors...we take the safety and security of the Capitol and the people here very seriously. Given the disgraceful, un-American acts that we saw at the U.S. Capitol," Kemp said. "Law-breaking like we saw last week will not be tolerated."
"The Department of Public Safety continues to monitor protest activity and to evaluate security measures on Capitol Hill. We have a strategic plan to provide a safe and secure environment at the Capitol. As always, we will continue to support those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights in a peaceful manner. However, we will not tolerate any unlawful behavior or threats of violence or damage to state property. We are prepared to respond in the appropriate manner as we have always done in the past," said Colonel Wright, who also stressed anyone caught violating the law will be dealt with swiftly and accordingly.
In October, work began on an 8-foot tall metal bar fence with spikes on top of it that will surround a good portion of the Capitol building in Atlanta. Security was also tightened at the governor’s mansion in Buckhead. In all, the state spent about $5 million on security upgrades.
Anyone who sees something suspicious is asked to contact their local law enforcement officials.
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