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No major protests at Florida Capitol amid heavy law enforcement presence

Posted at 6:38 PM, Jan 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 00:16:00-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As the sun went down over Florida's capital city, a day of tense anxiousness came to an end with little action at the state Capitol.

The increased law enforcement at the Capitol came as an FBI warning was issued to all state Capitols about possible violent protests last week, and a Tallahassee man was arrested on Friday for issuing a "call to arms" to "violently confront" protesters at the Florida Capitol.

In total, only a handful people came to protest at the Capitol on Sunday, including a man who wasn't protesting but still showed up to bring a sign that read, "Share the Love."

Yet, Tallahassee was prepared for much more based on the amount of preparation publicly shown Sunday.

On Friday, Tallahassee mayor John Dailey called on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to activate the Florida National Guard, to which Gov. DeSantis agreed and activated them later that night.

Florida National Guard troops were supposed to be in Tallahassee by Sunday, according to a Florida National Guard spokesperson, but were not visible during the daylight hours on Sunday.

The day began with law enforcement coming to the Capitol complex, and some even shut down streets near the complex.

As officers began getting to their positions in case of violent protests, things were quiet. Most people that showed up to the Capitol complex were casual bike riders, tourists and people going about a normal day.

Some officers were even spotted atop various buildings around the Capitol complex.

Mayor Dailey then held a press conference from the Chain of Parks across from the DoubleTree hotel downtown, where he thanked law enforcement for coming to protect the Capitol.

Also in the press conference, he talked of the city's preparedness ahead of the threat of violent protests.

"I hope nothing happens, I hope that we continue to have the peaceful days in Tallahassee that we always do and that we enjoy," said Dailey. "But hope alone is not a plan, we are prepared."

Mayor Dailey was asked about where the National Guard was, but declined to comment on their strategies.

Then, around 1:30 p.m. someone showed up to the Capitol complex with a sign, but they were not a protester.

The sign they were holding was a simple request: "Spread the Love."

At 2 p.m., the Tallahassee Police Department gave a statement to ABC 27 that called the Capitol "secure."

Around about 4:15 p.m., protesters began to show up at the Capitol, but not in the force that was expected.

The group of about five people that identified themselves as non-partisan held signs that read "Make America Neighbors Again," and "Freedom is not a privilege, Freedom is a right."

By 6 p.m., live cameras from around the Capitol showed that the group had departed.

While the FBI warning to all 50 state Capitols and the U.S. Capitol in Washington mentioned Jan. 17 as a day to be weary of, it also warned of the days leading up to Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.

The spokesperson for the Florida National Guard told ABC 27 that they will be in Tallahassee as long as they are needed.