Georgia ‘fully prepared’ for any unrest ahead of inauguration, Kemp says

Gov. Brian Kemp makes remarks about security at the Georgia State Capitol building with Colonel Chris C. Wright (left), Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, and Adjutant General Thomas Carden (right), of the Georgia Department of Defense, during a press conference about vaccine distribution at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Gov. Brian Kemp makes remarks about security at the Georgia State Capitol building with Colonel Chris C. Wright (left), Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, and Adjutant General Thomas Carden (right), of the Georgia Department of Defense, during a press conference about vaccine distribution at the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Governor says threat level is ‘very low’ but officials are taking ‘nothing for granted.’

Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday vowed a tough, no-nonsense defense of the state Capitol ahead of armed protests President Trump supporters are calling for next week in all 50 U.S. states.

Saying he did not want to tip off anyone, Kemp would not specify how Georgia is preparing for this weekend and beyond.

But he has extended an executive order authorizing him to deploy the Georgia Guard. And during the opening of this year’s legislative session Monday, law enforcement officials were posted on downtown Atlanta streets, some wearing military-style uniforms. Barricades around the Capitol kept the public at bay.

01/11/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — Georgia State Trooper stand guard outside of the Georgia State Capitol building on the first day of the 2021 session in downtown Atlanta, Monday, January 11, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
01/11/2021 — Atlanta, Georgia — Georgia State Trooper stand guard outside of the Georgia State Capitol building on the first day of the 2021 session in downtown Atlanta, Monday, January 11, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

The FBI has warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Associated Press reported.

“I want to assure everyone from legislators, staff, visitors and the general public on down that the Department of Public Safety, the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia National Guard take the safety and security of the Capitol and the people here very seriously,” said Kemp, who was flanked by Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden Jr., Georgia’s adjutant general, and Col. Chris Wright, Georgia’s Department of Public Safety commissioner.

“Given the disgraceful, unamerican acts we saw last week in Washington, these gentlemen and their teams are fully prepared to deal with anything and everything that may happen in the days and weeks ahead.”

Kemp added: “Lawbreaking like we saw last week will not be tolerated here. Period.”

The threat level Georgia’s Capitol is facing is “very low,” Kemp said. “But we are taking nothing for granted,” he said. “I think you can see what happens when you do that, looking back to last week.”

State authorities are monitoring intelligence and updating their security plans accordingly, Wright said, adding they “are well prepared to handle anything that may come in our direction.”

“We certainly respect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest, as the governor said,” Wright said. “But we will not tolerate unlawful or violent behavior in this state.”

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