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Senate President Wilton Simpson speaks to the press during the Florida Legislature's Organization Session at the Florida Capitol Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.

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Wilton Simpson warns Capitol protests are ‘very likely,’ encourages staff to work remotely

The memo comes after federal authorities learned that armed protests are planned at all 50 state capitols.

Senate President Wilton Simpson is encouraging Senators and staff to work remotely Sunday amid physical security concerns at the Florida Capitol Complex.

In a memo sent Tuesday, Simpson said the Capitol is currently secure and not under threat. But come the weekend, the Trilby Republican worries trouble could be afoot.

“It is however very likely that we will have protestors gathering outside the Capitol this Sunday, January 17th,” Simpson wrote. “I understand that this time of year many members of our professional staff are working on the weekends. Out of an abundance of caution, I am requesting that staff work remotely this Sunday, rather than traveling to the Capitol Complex.”

Simpson’s memo comes after federal authorities became privy to intelligence indicating that armed protests are planned at all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol in Washington ahead of President-elect Joe Biden‘s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Presently, it is unclear what threats — if any — the Florida Capitol Complex may face. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Monday issued a statement acknowledging threats to capitols nationwide.

“We are aware of the information regarding possible protests and violence at state capitols,” the state police agency said. “FDLE and Capitol Police continue to monitor the national situation and analyze information relevant to public safety. We regularly collaborate with our federal, state and local partners to discuss and implement security measures that enhance public safety at Florida’s Capitol.”

Notably, the Florida House has yet to issue any guidance on the issue.

Simpson reassured Senators that physical security has remained a priority for authorities in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said health and safety are his “top priority.”

“You are all already aware of our safety protocols related to health, specifically the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Simpson wrote. “Under the leadership of Sergeant [Damien] Kelly, we have also made significant enhancements to the physical security of the Senate. These enhancements, while confidential, are designed to ensure the safety of all those who visit and work in the Senate.”

Kelly, the Florida Senate’s sergeant-at-arms, is in “close contact” with Capitol Police and FDLE, the memo added.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis fired a verbal warning shot at potential rioters on Tuesday, sending out a broad advisory that Florida will not tolerate violence and unlawful assembly like seen at the U.S. Capitol.

“If anything is disorderly, we’re going to act very quickly,” DeSantis told reporters at The Villages. “Don’t worry about that.”

Simpson’s full memo is below:

Written By

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at jason@floridapolitics.com or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sonja Fitch

    January 12, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Every day I am surprised at Simpson and Patronis! Both makeme think and hope that there are a few good and decent Republicans! Sprowls just another goptrump death cult sociopath hustling lies in Fox News! Duffus Desantis you are tied in the loser failure race with little Marco! Nazi Rick and Rutherford are compromised humans of the goptrump death!

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