Vermont State House

Security Increased Around Vermont State House Ahead of Possible Demonstrations

Troopers are patrolling the building that houses the Vermont Legislature, ahead of possible demonstrations this weekend and next week

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Security has been visibly increased at the Vermont State House in Montpelier, with top public safety officials saying it'll stay that way through at least Inauguration Day.

Police agencies in Vermont have said they are aware of calls for armed marches on state capitals across the nation. However, they added that they know of no specific, credible threats against government buildings or anyplace else here.

NECN and NBC 10 Boston saw state troopers armed with long guns patrolling the Vermont State House in Montpelier Friday and another team working with a police K-9.

"My hope, my sincere hope, is that we're overprepared—that we won't have to use any of the resources that are available and ready to go," Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said Friday.

The new measures follow the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, and were put in place ahead of possible protests in Vermont this weekend and again next week around the presidential inauguration.

Police agencies in Vermont said this week they are planning for whatever could pop up, though kept their cards close to their vests about specifics—for security reasons.

"We continue to ask that Vermonters engage in the 'See Something, Say Something' campaign," Mike Schirling, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, said Friday. "If you see anything that looks like a threat or looks like it's off, please let your local law enforcement know or hit our tip line."

In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and national security threats, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is asking Americans to watch the inauguration virtually from their home states.

Schirling and the governor both said they respect people's right to demonstrate and express their ideas, but insisted that any gathering must be peaceful.

Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, D-Vermont, said in an interview Friday with NECN and NBC10 Boston that she has confidence in the security preparations she has been briefed on.

Gray expressed gratitude to the local, county, and state law enforcement authorities, as well as their federal partners, for their work to keep the peace.

"It's troubling that we are at a place in our history where we need to have this much security at institutions that are normally so open and so accessible to Vermonters," Gray observed. "My hope is that we get through this next week, that we think about how important it is to have everyone at the table as we recover from this pandemic—that we restore faith in good government and the essentialness of good government."

The State House lawn is used for all sorts of get-togethers, even ones that have nothing to do with politics. But this Sunday, when protests could happen, Scott said it is best for everyone to just stay away.

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