Political News

Troopers guard Texas Capitol and a few protesters gather as legislative session starts

Posted January 12, 2021 3:29 p.m. EST

— Numerous law enforcement officers stood guard at Texas' Capitol building in Austin and about a dozen demonstrators gathered outside as the legislative session began Tuesday.

The large police presence came as an FBI internal bulletin warned "armed protests" were being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington, DC, in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20.

It also came after rioters supporting President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol last week, leaving five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

Outside the Texas Capitol, some demonstrators took turns speaking with a microphone. One, who said he was a founder of a local militia group, spoke against business shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic and praised "patriots that stand up for our constitutional rights."

He also said "what happened in DC was unacceptable," but "if that's not a wake-up call to how pissed off Americans are, I don't know what is."

At least one person on the grounds had a rifle. State law allows licensed gun owners to carry firearms at the Capitol.

Officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety and other agencies stood at multiple entrances to the Capitol, ahead of the noon start of the 2021 session.

Austin police told CNN that they "have reports of planned assemblies, and ... are working with our law enforcement partners at DPS to ensure people are able to peacefully assemble and voice opinions and we are able to keep people safe during that process."

The Texas DPS was requiring rapid Covid-19 tests of anyone who wanted to enter the building.

Two arrested on capitol grounds in Washington state

A day earlier, police in Washington state said they made two arrests on the capitol grounds in Olympia on Monday, the first day of that state's 2021 legislative session.

The first arrest was of a woman who used an RV to block a roadway and "refused to comply with orders to move," state police said.

Later Monday, state police arrested a man who "attempted to enter the restricted area." He was held on suspicion of failure to comply with a lawful order, police said.

The state police are at the capitol in response to promises of unpermitted protests from groups on both the left and right of the political spectrum. No groups were present in significant numbers by Monday afternoon, according to a CNN team there.

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