‘It’s another beautiful day in Tallahassee:’ Florida Capitol evades Sunday protests
Members of the Capitol Police Department walk down the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol as multiple law enforcement agencies stationed around the Capitol Complex as a precaution after FBI warnings of potential violence at state capitols on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat

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Statehouses nationwide are bracing for a potentially violent week.

All is quiet on Florida’s northern front.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Florida Capitol Complex hosted flocks of press and police with hardly a protester in sight.

Speaking at a press conference nearby, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s another beautiful day in Tallahassee,” Dailey told reporters. “My message to anybody that wants to come to Tallahassee for violent reasons and destruction of property: stay home.”

Statehouses nationwide are bracing for a potentially violent week after the FBI warned of a possibility for armed protests at all 50 state capitol buildings.

In Florida, roughly half a dozen law enforcement agencies are mobilized to safeguard against the type of violence seen at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. There, a mob supporting President Donald Trump assailed the Capitol as lawmakers attempted to certify the Electoral College vote.

The heightened tensions became more acute on Saturday when federal authorities arrested an Army veteran who plotted to confront Capitol protesters with firearms. He encouraged others to join him via social media.

While the Florida Capitol Complex appeared seemingly sparred Sunday, President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration remains days away.

“I hope nothing happens,” Dailey said. “I hope that we continue to have the peaceful days in Tallahassee that we always do and that we enjoy. But hope alone is not a plan and we are prepared.”

Dailey said law enforcement agencies at all levels are working around the clock to protect the Capitol and neighboring communities.

On Sunday, helicopters, drones, motorcycles, bicycle patrol units and officers staged on rooftops could be seen on and around the complex.

Dailey noted that no protest permits have been filed in Tallahassee.

“We all have the right to have our voices heard in a peaceful assembly and we all support that, especially here in Tallahassee. But let me be clear, we have zero tolerance for violence or destruction of any property in Tallahassee. We’re not going to put up with it.”

Dailey on Saturday pleaded with Gov. Ron DeSantis to activate the Florida National Guard, noting the foiled Tallahassee plot and potential for violence.

DeSantis later activated the Florida National Guard, marking the state’s latest countermeasure against the looming armed protests

The Governor’s executive order allows the National Guard to assist state and local law enforcement while they conduct “security missions and assignments necessary to maintain peace.”

The activation is dated through Jan. 24 or until the security missions are complete.

Notably, more than a third of the nation’s governors have activated the National Guard to protect state houses alongside civilian law enforcement.

In the nation’s capital, over 20,000 National Guard troops are standing guard ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration. Among them are roughly 600 Florida National Guard men and women.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    January 18, 2021 at 6:02 am

    Wonder what it will be like down in South Florida with the goptrump death cult sociopath leader and his family living there come Wednesday January 20?

Comments are closed.


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