Armed pro-Trump protesters gather outside Texas state Capitol
AUSTIN, Texas — The first day of Texas’ legislative session drew armed pro-Trump protesters to the state Capitol on Tuesday, ABC affiliate KVUE reported.
Some of the demonstrators included men carrying long rifles and dressed in combat fatigues, but they were located far beyond the Capitol entrance. The state has not banned guns on Capitol grounds.
Some demonstrators took turns speaking with a microphone. One, who said he was a founder of a local militia group, spoke against business shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic and praised “patriots that stand up for our constitutional rights.”
The demonstration came after rioters supporting President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, leaving five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
More than 100 Texas troopers, including dozens wearing tactical vests and carrying riot gear, stood on guard outside the state Capitol building as lawmakers returned to work Tuesday amid FBI warnings of armed protests at statehouses across the country.
Texas National Guard members also patrolled outside the Capitol.
An internal FBI bulletin 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 Texas Department of Public Safety said it deployed more security to the state Capitol but made no mention of specific threats.
Although the state Capitol was open to visitors, state officials said anyone entering the building must take a Covid-19 test. The requirement came down as the virus is raging in Texas, with more than 13,000 newly confirmed cases reported in the past day.
President Donald Trump flew to Texas on Tuesday to survey the border wall with Mexico. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott was not joining Trump but was instead attending the largely ceremonial first day of Texas’ legislative session.
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