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Leon County, state of Florida prepares for potential protests ahead of Inauguration Day

Armed protests said to be "very likely"
Posted at 1:38 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 17:27:27-05

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Law enforcement agencies in Leon County and across the state of Florida are on high alert ahead of the potential for armed protests this weekend.

When asked if his office was prepared for the reports of armed protests in Tallahassee that could escalate like the riots seen in Washington, D.C. last week, Gov. DeSantis said Tuesday that the state was prepared to "act very quickly" and said law enforcement “reinforcements” will be on standby.

“I don’t want to see that,” the governor said. “If anything is disorderly, we are going to act very quickly. Don’t worry about that.”

This comes after the FBI warned in an internal bulletin that armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol.

According to the bulletin, FBI received information about a group calling for “storming” state, local, and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event President Donald Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day.

The group is also planning to “storm” government offices in every state the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes went to Biden or Trump.

Locally, law enforcement is also preparing for potential protests this weekend.

The Leon County Sheriff's office confirmed to ABC 27 they will be increasing deputy presence on the Capitol grounds and will focus their efforts there. LCSO has also canceled vacation for all deputies between Jan. 16 - 20.

Along with that, the sheriff's office said that they have communicated with the Tallahassee Police Department, FDLE, Capitol Police, and even other sheriff’s offices in the region about getting help patrolling the area.

When ABC 27 reached out to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, they said that they were aware of the reports and planned to "monitor the national situation."

"We are aware of the information regarding possible protests and violence at state capitols. FDLE and Capitol Police continue to monitor the national situation and analyze information relevant to public safety," the FDLE wrote in a statement sent Monday to ABC 27. "We regularly collaborate with our federal, state, and local partners to discuss and implement security measures that enhance public safety at Florida’s Capitol."

Legislators also seem to be taking precautions ahead of what could be an eventful weekend.

In a letter sent Tuesday afternoon, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson warned capitol staff to stay home on Jan. 17.

While he wrote that the Capitol remains secure and there have been no threats to their safety at this time, he requested that staff work remotely on Sunday "out of an abundance of caution."

"It is however very likely that we will have protesters gathering outside the Capitol this Sunday, January 17th," Simpson wrote.