Senate staff encouraged to remain clear of Capitol to accommodate law enforcement presence
Photo credit: Tori Lynn Schneider of the Tallahassee Democrat

2021-01-17_16-26-42
Senate President Wilton Simpson said he is unaware of 'planned acts of violence' at the Capitol.

Senate President Wilton Simpson encouraged lawmakers and staff on Tuesday to continue working from home amid lingering security concerns at the Florida Capitol Complex.

In a memo sent Tuesday, Simpson said he is unaware of “planned acts of violence” at the Capitol, though law enforcement is anticipating demonstrations on Tuesday or Wednesday. The scale of the protests, the Trilby Republican noted, is unknown.

“In consultation with Sergeant [Damien] Kelly and Capitol Police, I am requesting that our Senate Professional Staff work remotely on Tuesday (January 19) and Wednesday (January 20) as law enforcement will be utilizing some of the communal areas within the Senate for staging purposes,” Simpson wrote in the memo.

Statehouses nationwide began bracing for demonstrations last week after the FBI warned of a possibility for armed protests at all 50 state capitol buildings.

Florida’s security tensions grew 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.

In response, the National Guard and 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 Florida National Guard activation is dated through Jan. 24 or until the security missions are complete.

“We are very grateful to state and local law enforcement and our Florida National Guard for their presence in Tallahassee over this holiday weekend,” Simpson said in the memo.

The Florida Capitol was without protests or incidents over the weekend. While the complex hosted flocks of press and police, there was hardly a protester in sight.

Simpson said he looks forward to the upcoming interim committee week, suggesting the security concerns will not impact scheduling.

Simpson’s full memo is below.

Jason Delgado

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 [email protected] or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.



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