Florida tightens security at state capitol ahead of potential inauguration protests

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News/WFLA) — Authorities in Tallahassee are on alert for any potential armed and violent protests at the Florida Capitol ahead of next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden in Washington.

Legislative staff in Tallahassee have been told to work remotely if they must work on Sunday.

State senators spent an hour behind closed doors on Monday for a classified security briefing.

“Our Senate president was dead serious when he said they would keep us safe, and I felt very good walking out of that security briefing,” State Sen. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) said.

State Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) said the security briefing also included tips for when senators were not at the capitol.

“There’s a bunch of crazy people out there. We can’t tell what they are doing,” Sen. Stewart said. “I’ve already gotten several flyers that are promoting violence, and we must always be on our toes and be alert.”

Flyers circulating the internet promise protests across the country beginning Sunday. The FBI sent out a warning, putting all 50 state capitols on alert.

U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe of Northern Florida said plans are in place to keep the peace.

“We are in a 24/7 command center posture,” he said. “And I’m a great believer in transparency and if you want the public to trust assurances that we believe we have the situation in control here.”

In the past few decades, security breaches have been few and far between. None have ended violently.

State Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville) said the briefing dealt with multiple threats.

“We’re just looking at anybody who wants to do harm. And that’s where the briefing was designed to have a safe blanket of security,” he said.

Lawmakers themselves won’t be at the capitol over the weekend, nor next week, when the chances of violent protests are greatest.

Flags at the Florida Capitol are currently at half staff in honor of the police officer who died as a result of last week’s protest at the U.S. Capitol.

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