The Capitol Complex in Harrisburg will be closed starting at 10 a.m. on Jan. 17 in anticipation of protests leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Harrisburg Burea of Police, Capitol Police, Pennsylvania State Police, and Pennsylvania National Guard members, as well as additional local law enforcement officials, will be in and around the Harrisburg area. The heightened security was implemented in response to FBI warnings that armed marches have been organized to take place at state capitals.
Mayor Eric Papenfuse, on a video published to the city’s Twitter page, said he thinks it’s possible to be “optimistic, while also being prepared for whatever comes our way.” Hundreds of law enforcement members have been deployed to defend the Capitol, he said.
“I’m well aware of the concerns many Harrisburg residents have over what may transpire this weekend or next week regarding potential protests in Harrisburg,” Papenfuse said. “I wanna stress that we are prepared for whatever comes our way. Over the past week, there’s been an enormous effort on all levels – state, federal, county, and city – to coordinate and prepare for whatever response is needed.”
Street closures can be expected in the downtown area, Harrisburg police said on Friday.
“The Capitol Complex will be closed this Sunday starting at 10 a.m.,” Papenfuse said. “That includes Commonwealth Avenue between Walnut and Foster Street and the streets behind it. The city will be closing 3rd Street in front of the Capitol and the 200 block of State Street. Those are the only street closures planned at this time. But, we have the ability to close additional streets as necessary and we will be monitoring the situation very carefully.”
Authorities will be working with local and state officials to observe and determine how to respond to protests over the weekend.
“Expect to see a strong police presence throughout Harrisburg and don’t be surprised if you see our police officers along with uniformed PA National Guards,” Papenfuse said. “At this point, we’re going to see how things transpire over the weekend before making a decision on Monday about further preparations for Wednesday. There might be additional street closures for Wednesday. We may recommend certain closures for buildings downtown, including City Hall.”
Throughout last week, authorities have provided updates on what measures they are taking to protect residents, businesses, and visitors in Harrisburg. State police said they have put troopers from throughout the Capital Region on elevated alert status and are fully prepared to bring all resources to bear to keep the Capitol safe, including aviation units to offer aerial surveillance, the bomb squad to inspect any suspicious packages or objects and mounted units for crowd control, Lt. Col. Scott Price, deputy commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, said earlier this week.
The Capitol Police has its Special Response Team that specializes in crisis response patrolling the Capitol grounds in full gear already. Barriers are erected around the Capitol.
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