DeSantis vows Florida will be ready if protests engulf state Capitol

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed the FBI’s warnings about planned demonstrations in all 50 state capitals, but said he knew nothing “specific” against Tallahassee. | Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a top ally of President Donald Trump, vowed Tuesday that in the event of any disturbance, state authorities would be ready before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

DeSantis, who failed to criticize Trump over last week’s riots in the U.S. Capitol, admitted the FBI’s warnings of possible protests and violence in state capitals until the January 20 inauguration, but said he do not know anything about “specific” destinations Tallahassee.

“If something is out of order, we will act very quickly,” DeSantis said at a press conference at The Villages. “I don’t care why you do it. You don’t do it here. If there is any kind of disturbance we will have the reinforcements over there.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson meanwhile sent a memo to lawmakers instructing all Senate staff to work remotely on Sunday. While he said there had been “no threats” to the Florida Capitol, he warned it was “very likely” that there would be protesters outside the complex on Sunday if “armed” marches were planned in all 50 states and Washington be.

How we got here: The cautious moves by the Republican governor and lawmaker come less than a week after Trump supporters stormed the convention halls, threatened lawmakers, beat a police officer to death and destroyed historic furniture. Federal authorities have begun arresting people who participated in the riot, including several people from Florida. Trump has been accused of provoking the crowd before the riots – and he has also been accused of not responding quickly to the riots.

DeSantis has criticized the violence last week. When asked by a reporter on Tuesday whether Trump should be held accountable for what happened, the governor made no response. He previously said that “he was glad some of these people were arrested,” and thought that law enforcement would act as a deterrent.

Key context: The FBI on Monday alerted authorities across the country to the prospect of further violent protests in state capitals. In a statement, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it was “informed” of the information and they would “continue to monitor the national situation and analyze information relevant to public safety.” The Florida Capitol has remained largely closed since the coronavirus pandemic began, despite lawmakers holding committee meetings this week.

DeSantis called the Florida National Guard last year during protests that took place in several cities across the state following the assassination of George Floyd, but these units were not deployed.

What’s next: President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th. There are no Florida legislative sessions scheduled for next week.

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