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Law Enforcement Prepares for Violence at State Capitol

Virginia's state capitol
Fencing surrounds Virginia's state capitol after the FBI warns of violence in all 50 state capitols. (Photo: Ben Paviour/VPM News)

*VPM Intern Lyndon German reported this story

With the presidential inauguration approaching and FBI warnings about potential violence in all 50 states, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a warning to any individuals planning to disrupt Virginia’s Capitol Square next week.

“If you’re planning to come here or up to Washington, [D.C.] with ill intent in your heart, you need to turn around right now and go home. You’re not welcome here, and you’re not welcome in our nation’s capital,” Northam said. “And if you come here and act out, Virginia will be ready.”

On Monday, gun rights groups plan to assemble in cars and drive through downtown Richmond in lieu of their annual lobby day, traditionally  held on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. Like others wishing to lobby in person this year, the groups were unable to secure a permit.

Virginia deployed more than 2,000 National Guard members to Washington in response to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins reports.

Both the National Guard and an abundance of state and local law enforcement will monitor activity at the state Capitol and the Science Museum of Virginia, where the state Senate is conducting its legislative session this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Law enforcement will also patrol around the Capitol and downtown Richmond, and Monument Avenue, where protesters gathered this summer.

This unified approach and planning began long before the attack on the Capitol, according to Mayor Levar Stoney, who declared a state of emergency earlier this week.

“The violent, lawless insurrection and assault on democracy and its institutions that unfolded last week in Washington, D.C. will not be tolerated in the city of Richmond,” Mayor Levar Stoney said, advising residents avoid the downtown area for the time being.

In preparation for Monday, fencing surrounds the capitol. Road closures have already taken place and may remain until next Thursday, one day after the presidential inauguration. 

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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