Maine State Capitol at night. Photo by Ramona du Houx

January 14, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

The domestic terrorist attack of January 6, 2021 on the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. during the official ceremonial process of tallying the votes from the 2020 Presidential Election has heighten security across the nation at State Capitols.

The counting of the states electoral votes had already become a mockery by Sen. Ted Cruz and other Senate and House Republicans who disrupted the proceedings insisting on an investigation into voter fraud in an attempt to invalidate the election, even though over 60 courts and numerous officials have declared the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Although the process was delayed by the riot, a brave Congress reconvened the same day to do their Constitutional duty. Early in the morning of January 7, 2021 President elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris were officially declared by Congress as the next President and Vice President of the United States.

Now, security at the US Capitol has up to 20,000 National Guard troops on duty. Many of whom are sleeping in the Capitol to protect it for the Inaugural proceedings on January 20, 2021.

In Maine, Governor Janet Mills said she has activated the National Guard and placed them on standby status to support law enforcement, if needed, in advance of potential events at the State Capitol heading into this weekend and next week. The Governor activated the Guard out of an abundance of caution to ensure that Guard members are ready and available to assist law enforcement, if it is determined their support is needed.

As of now, the Department of Public Safety, as a result of national reports, is specifically tracking and preparing for any potential events in Augusta on Sunday, January 17th through Wednesday, January 20th, the date of the Inauguration.

“There is no credible evidence at the moment to suggest that any protests that may occur in Augusta will be anything other than peaceful. But based on what we saw last week at the U.S. Capitol, and like many of my fellow governors across the country, I am activating the National Guard out of an abundance of caution. Doing so allows them to be ready to act in the event their support is needed,” said Governor Janet Mills. “I fully respect the right of all Maine people to speak their minds in a peaceful and lawful manner, and I hope – and expect – that will be the case in the coming days, just as it has been in the past here in Maine.”

The Maine Department of Public Safety, through the Maine State Police and its Maine Information Analysis Center (MIAC), continues to monitor intelligence and receive and analyze any relevant and credible information from the public and Federal partners in order to maintain situational awareness and plan for potential events in Maine.

“The Department of Public Safety is working closely with both our Federal and local partners to ensure that any demonstrations that take place are conducted lawfully and peacefully,” said Mike Sauschuck, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety. “We are planning so that we are fully prepared if that is not the case, although there is no evidence right now that suggests this.”

The Department, in conjunction with Capitol Police and local law enforcement such as the Augusta Police Department and other surrounding departments, has stood up a unified command center led by the Maine State Police to prepare for and respond to any potential events. The Maine National Guard are engaged in these discussions.

The Capitol has been closed to the public as a result of COVID-19 and is only accessible to lawmakers, state government employees, or others with authorized key cards. However, the Capitol Police have further consolidated entrance points at the State Capitol and the adjacent Cross Office Building and have established additional security screening procedures. In the coming days, the Department of Public Safety will continue to adjust protocols as needed.

Weapons are prohibited on state property in Augusta.

Earlier this week, the Governor also authorized a request from the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to send Maine National Guard service members to support federal agencies and the District of Columbia National Guard during the Inauguration.

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