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Law and Justice

California’s Capitol On Guard: Despite FBI Warnings, No Armed Protest In Sacramento On Sunday

Andrew Nixon / CapRadio
Police in front of the state Capitol ahead of anticipated pro-Trump rallies on Sunday, January 17, 2021.

The FBI warned of the potential for "armed protests" at all 50 state capitols starting Sunday, but the demonstrators were a no-show in Sacramento.

1:40 p.m.: Despite FBI warnings, no armed protest in Sacramento on Sunday

Things remained quiet at California’s Capitol over the weekend and today, despite the FBI warning of possible armed protests.

Dozens of police officers patrolled the area outside the Capitol as National Guard troops stood by with rifles. There was also lots of press and members of the media. What was missing? Protesters.

Law enforcement and extremist experts warned of violent demonstrations around the country leading up to inauguration day. However, law enforcement isn’t letting its guard down and will maintain a heavy presence around the Capitol this week.

Some groups have been openly discussing protest plans downtown on Inauguration Day.

11:35 a.m.: No activity in downtown Sacramento late Sunday morning

The areas around the California state Capitol remained calm late Sunday morning. There were no signs of protests or other gatherings, while a heavy law enforcement presence continued to patrol downtown Sacramento.

Around 11 a.m. the Sacramento Police Department tweeted that "There are no active demonstrations at this time."

In Carson City, Nevada, there were no signs of protests, though law enforcement posted temporary surveillance cameras outside the state Capitol and attorney general's office. The lack of protests mirrors many other capitals around the country early Sunday, where possible protests have not materialized or were smaller than anticipated.

8:30 a.m.: California Capitol quiet early Sunday morning

There was little activity around the California state Capitol early Sunday morning.

California National Guard troops are patrolling the area around the Capitol building, preparing for possible demonstrations by pro-Trump groups.

Downtown businesses have continued boarding up storefronts, windows and doors in anticipation of potential protests.

6:00 a.m. ... Officials are bracing for a series of armed protests at the California and Nevada state capitols starting today and lasting through the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday. The possible actions follow the violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump extremists on Jan. 6.

The FBI has warned of the potential for "armed protests" at all 50 state capitols, and earlier this week California Gov. Gavin Newsom deployed 1,000 National Guard troops to protect the Capitol and critical infrastructure. Sacramento Police say they are dedicating local resources to keeping peace downtown, while the California Highway Patrol is stepping up enforcement around Capitol, including erecting a fence around the building this week. Some downtown businesses have boarded up their storefronts.

"We don’t have specific information to indicate that a particular person or a particular group is going to be in Sacramento at a particular time, there’s just been general chatter on social media, people we’ve talked to said there are people who are planning to converge on the state capitol or other capitols," said FBI special agent Sean Ragan. "We hope that it’s a peaceful weekend and the next week is extremely peaceful and if people demonstrate they demonstrate peacefully and there will be no issues, that’s what we hope."

In California and Nevada, the planned demonstrations also follow a series of weekly protests by far right groups in Sacramento and Carson City. The events have attracted members of Proud Boys, a white supremacist street-fighting gang usually recognizable in their black and yellow attire, and other far right groups such as the Three Percenters and the California State Militia, another paramilitary group.

While the attack of the U.S. Capitol has raised questions about security at the California state Capitol, several law enforcement officials and lawmakers say they believe the building can be kept safe from potential rioters. But local activists have noted that the response to recent protests by far-right and majority-white groups have been less harsh than the response to the racial justice protests this summer.

This story will be updated throughout the day Sunday. For more immediate updates, follow CapRadio reporters Scott Rodd and Kris Hooks on Twitter, as well as our CapRadioNews account. You do not need a Twitter account to view those updates.