Far-right protestors are mostly a no-show after Capitols Become Fortresses
Statehouses were converted into citadels by a mass mobilization of soldiers and police throughout the nation. Yet far-right parties, for the most part, stayed away from Sunday's demonstrations.
And that's how the last weekend of the Trump presidency wound down, with barricades circling state capitals throughout the country, military vehicles guarding closed-off highways, and Washington, D.C., all but shut down. It was, in the end, for a handful of protesters, most of them from the right, a few from the left, many more like ragtag stragglers than the angry crowd of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. More than a week ago, the Capitol.
"In Concord, N.H., on the sidewalk in front of the statehouse lawn, five armed men dressed in combat gear and carrying assault rifles gathered to voice concerns about "government overreach." National Guard soldiers watched as a dozen members of the far-right Boogaloo Bois party turned up with military-style weapons in Lansing, Mich.
Legislative chambers throughout the country, the houses of the citizens, became citadels. A minimum of 17 states have called up their National Guard.
In Washington, 15,000 troops formed a Green Zone, adding to the impression of an occupied area, more than the nation has stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The National Guard said that the soldiers came from all 50 states and three territories, a force that by Wednesday could rise to 25,000.
After alerts from the F.B.I. that armed protests were expected in all 50 capitals and following online chatter promising riots or worse in the days leading up to the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as president on Wednesday, the huge deployment of troops and police officers across the country came.
On Sunday, the militarized streets of the country were a stunning spectacle as police and National Guard officers met promised right-wing demonstrations that were reduced to a whimper, at least on Sunday. Protesters may be counted on one hand in some jurisdictions.
A pedestrian yelled, "What's going on?" at the Massachusetts State House, where hundreds of police officers were stationed all over the perimeter. ”
"Perhaps a demonstration, perhaps not," an officer replied.
But officials state they will stay on alert through the inauguration on Wednesday.
The smattering of Trump supporters who turned up to the State Capitol wondered if they had come on the wrong day in Denver, where public buildings were boarded up and police officers perched on rooftops. Larry Woodall, 59, who was wearing a Trump 2020 face mask, said, "I expected more than I did." "I feel like the lone wolf is me."
Two demonstrators marching around the State Capitol were counted by a reporter in Lincoln, Neb., one armed and the other holding a homemade sign.
"There were so few protesters outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol that reporters lined up on the sidewalk to interview a man who gave his name only as Alex and wore a sweatshirt that said "Fraud 2020." Reporters then turned to a man named Eddie who sold T-shirts "Biden is not my president" but left soon after for lack of customers. Reporters then turned to a man named Eddie who sold "Biden is not my president.
Those that made the moment light were there. A man with a big Nerf gun appeared in Lansing and wore a T-shirt proclaiming himself to be part of the Michigan Nerf Militia.
But the fear of a nation wounded by a divisive power transfer and suffering from a pandemic and anxious fatigue, particularly after the deadly attack on the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, was not denied.
As a precaution, the United States Postal Service confirmed it was withdrawing or locking several blue mailboxes from the streets of Washington. Agents from the Secret Service searched wheels and the interior of cars parked for something unusual along Massachusetts Avenue.
In Salem, Ore., less than a dozen men in military-style clothing marched across the street from the State Capitol to the grounds of a park, raising flags. "One held a sign on a white poster board with a marker: "Disarm the Government! 'Said it.
Pro-Trump demonstrators assembled at the Texas Capitol while officers from the Texas Public Safety Department patrolled the grounds and guarded the entrance to the nearby Governor's Mansion.
A protester, carrying a semiautomatic rifle and smoking a cigarette, lounged against a stone wall. He refused to give his name, claiming that he was there to "observe what was happening."
On Sunday, Daniel Hunter, a 34-year-old handyman, rode down from Waco to make sure no one assaulted the Capitol, he said.
If they do," he said, "I'll get ahead of them. "Capitol storming isn't civilized behavior."
The events of Jan. 6 stayed on the minds of everyone. The assault on the Capitol has not fallen away from the news cycle or been eclipsed by any subsequent indignation, unlike other landmark moments of the Trump presidency. The riot became much more vibrant and personalized as more video became available over the weekend.
Men are seen rifling through the desks of senators in the Senate chamber in a 12-minute video posted Sunday by The New Yorker magazine and flipping through their archives. I think that Cruz would want us to do that," says one man, referring to Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican of Texas." The video captures talks inside the Capitol between the rioters and police officers. "You are outnumbered," one of the men says to the police, adding that, at President Trump's order, the rioters are there, "your boss."
The storming of the Capitol and its aftermath, for many of those watching from a distance, combine into an impression of a country almost unrecognizable to them.
"It's been bad off-the-charts for the last week and a half," said Rich Kenny, a food distributor in Burlingame, Calif., who was cleaning his garage on Sunday.
"He said, "It is very unreal, and it is very depressing. And they say to someone who has friends in other countries, 'What the heck is going on over there?' The better democracy you guys are, because it seems like it's falling apart.' So it's a very rough time. And I'm ashamed of that.'
There was no evidence of any demonstrators in Sacramento, Calif., but the authorities were not taking any chances. The Capitol building was enclosed by a chain-link fence and portable metal barriers, and armed National Guard troops were posted on street corners outside the state library and the State Secretary's office. Circles of helicopters overhead.
A man paused to gawk on a scooter and muttered from behind his face mask.
Can you imagine that in America this is happening? "Said he.