AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Public Safety has announced temporary closures at the Texas State Capitol and grounds starting Saturday and lasting through Wednesday of next week in preparation for possible armed protests.
This comes after the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned of possible unrest at all 50 state capitals as Jan. 20, or Inauguration Day for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, inches closer.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety is aware of armed protests planned at the Texas State Capitol this week and violent extremists who may seek to exploit constitutionally protected events to conduct criminal acts,” said Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw in a press release.
The agency said it has deployed additional personnel and resources to the Capitol. It is working with the FBI and the Austin Police Department to monitor any events that may happen.
Texas DPS tightened security at the Capitol after armed protesters showed up Tuesday at the start of the Texas Legislative Session.
This week, Texas DPS briefed Texas lawmakers, revealing more details about who and what they are tracking.
According to several legislators in both the House and Senate, Texas DPS said law enforcement officials are monitoring several groups who pose a threat of violence, ranging in size from 60 to hundreds.
Legislators added there is currently no specific threat to any single lawmaker.
On Thursday this week, Gov. Greg Abbott condemned the violence at our nation’s capital, adding it should never happen again.
“Protest is expected in the United States of America. But it must be done peaceably. Violence in mayhem are not protected by the United States Constitution. What happened to desecrate our capital is irresponsible disrespectful. It should never have happened,” the governor said at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event.
Ahead of the expected armed protests, businesses surrounding the Capitol have already started boarding up. G4S, a national security services company, is offering advice to those preparing for the unrest.
“They really need to think about their proximity, for instance, to state or capital or government buildings,” G4S corporate risk services president Robert Dodge explained Friday.
“They should think about looking outside of their businesses that there aren’t things that could be used as projectiles, the for the for the windows are locked down, and they should really consider you know, do I even need to be open, during, you know, a day when we know there’s going to be a protest,” Dodge said.
“Then of course, emergency contact information from both my employees, customers, anybody else. Because you don’t want to be looking and scrambling around for that for at the last minute, you want to have it all prepared,” Dodge added.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office also said it is standing by to assist, should other law enforcement agencies need assistance. Texas DPS is encouraging people to report suspicious activity online.