With the threat of protests at state capitols nationwide in the lead-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, Gov. Tony Evers on Monday called on the National Guard to support the state Capitol Police.
The guard declined to disclose how many members would be mobilized or what, exactly, they would do, but the state Department of Administration began boarding up exterior ground-floor windows at the Capitol on Monday after the FBI warned of the possibility of nationwide armed protests by supporters of President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede last year's election and advanced false conspiracy theories about it being stolen from him.
After being egged on by the president, his supporters on Wednesday staged an invasion of the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were processing Electoral College votes.
The National Guard troops are part of its Reaction Force, which consists of troops trained to respond to requests for assistance on short notice. The Guard will serve in a support role to local authorities and conduct a site security mission.
The Department of Administration, which oversees the Capitol Police, also declined to share details of their security plan, in order to ensure the safety of the public and officers.
The Madison Police Department in a statement said that it “will have enhanced staffing capacity available as needed to address protest activity.”
The department “is committed to facilitating the expression of community members’ First Amendment rights while maintaining public safety,” it said. “Balancing these goals and maintaining a safe environment under these circumstances is challenging.”
Dane County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Elise Schaffer said deputies would help Capitol Police if asked.
The Capitol has been officially closed to the public since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, but lawmakers do provide limited space for members of the public who want to observe floor debates and committee meetings.