Officials increase security, but anticipated protesters a no-show at Mississippi Capitol

Security was high Sunday as Capitol Police, Mississippi Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies prepared for a protest that never happened.

FBI officials had warned of possible armed protests at state capitols across the country in advance of President-elect Joe Biden’s Wednesday inauguration.

In Jackson, it was relatively quiet around the Mississippi State Capitol, like many other capitols across the country, save for law enforcement and a handful of journalists and passersby.

Capitol protest tracker:Here’s a live look at capitols across the US

Government drones were being used to enhance surveillance around the Capitol as press photographers gathered. 

Beginning just after sunrise, reporters and photographers watched and waited for protesters to appear.

Several people who appeared to be tourists stopped to look at the building and take a few pictures of the Capitol before driving away. A woman was seen walking her dog down Mississippi Street.

State Capitol Police monitor the statehouse in Jackson, Miss., Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. The FBI has warned that armed protests have been planned at all 50 state capitols leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Late Sunday morning, a man carrying a large umbrella and nondescript black bag sat on a slab on the southeast corner of the Mississippi State Capitol. He talked on a phone for about 10 minutes, looking around the Capitol, occasionally pacing back and forth. 

Capitol police drove near the man but did not approach or appear to speak to him. 

He walked away after about a half hour.

Between 10:30 a.m. and noon, additional Capitol police and Highway Patrol troopers were stationed throughout the Capitol grounds while others patrolled other state and federal buildings as well as surrounding streets.

A K-9 unit patrolled the area but did not appear to alert on anything suspicious.

Dale Gibson, of Jackson, Miss., shows off the banner he planned to hold as a counter protester if a pro-Trump rally materialized Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. "But they done ruined my whole Sunday. Now I have to go and get drunk," Gibson said. Visibly enhanced security surrounded the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Miss., after the FBI warned armed protests had been planned at all 50 state capitols leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Later, Dale Gibson of Jackson arrived at the Capitol to protest the protest, but left after awhile because the protesters had not arrived. 

“I hate Trump,” he told a reporter. 

He was disappointed that a sign he made saying, “Trump lost. Biden won. Wear a mask. Shut up,” would not be seen by Trump supporters.

“They done ruined my whole Sunday,” Gibson said. “Now I have to go and get drunk.” 

By 3 p.m. most of the security forces had dissipated.

To the south of the Capitol, two MHP cruisers were stationed on the east and west perimeter of the Governor’s Mansion. 

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Lawmakers last week said they saw an increase in security personnel inside and outside the Capitol, including baggage scanners at the two main entrances and K-9s. 

State prepares:Capitol police in MS aware of possible armed protests at statehouses

MS National Guard sends troops to D.C. ahead of inauguration

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves ordered the state’s National Guard to Washington, D.C., in preparation for the presidential inauguration. Reeves said he is also in contact with the guard if things get out of control in Mississippi.

State Capitol Police monitor the statehouse in Jackson, Miss., Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. The FBI has warned that armed protests have been planned at all 50 state capitols leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

“We are prepared. We will be prepared,” Reeves said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

About 100 guardsmen from the 114th Military Police Company headquartered in Clinton deployed Friday. 

‘We are prepared’:Gov. Reeves addresses threat of uprising at state Capitol

No credible threat detected

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell, whose department oversees state law enforcement agencies such as the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, said an internal analysis by his agents has not determined a credible threat or any indication groups are planning to protest.  

Members of the recently-formed Patriot Party of Mississippi attended the protest at the National Mall that led to the storming and looting of the U.S. Capitol Building, the death of five people — including a U.S. Capitol Police officer — and dozens of injuries. 

The group’s leader, John Williams, who met with U.S. representatives Trent Kelly and Michael Guest before the protest turned violent, told the DeSoto Times-Tribune no one in his group of about 30 took part in the riots.

A video posted online told another story.

The nearly 30-minute video posted to YouTube begins with images from a crowded hallway near an entrance to the U.S. Capitol filled with rioters squaring off against Capitol Police. Some people can be heard screaming obscenities at law enforcement before launching into chants of “USA! USA!” as they push forward.  

At the 3:45 mark of the YouTube video, a man wearing a red and black flannel hoodie is seen cutting through the crowd with a sign that reads “The Patriot Party of Mississippi” with a sentence below that reads “Stop Congressional Corruption.” 

The sign is similar — but not identical — to one seen held by the same group before the breaching of the Capitol occurred.