(Headline USA) Small groups of protesters gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday, outnumbered by National Guard troops and police.
There were no reports of any clashes.
Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed and violent protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
Crowds of only a dozen or two people demonstrated at some boarded-up, cordoned-off statehouses, while the streets in many other capital cities remained empty.
Some protesters said they were there to back President Donald Trump. Others said they had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or oppose government overreach.
“I don’t trust the results of the election,” said Michigan protester Martin Szelag, a 67-year-old semi-retired window salesman from Dearborn Heights.
He wore a sign around his neck that read, in part, “We will support Joe Biden as our President if you can convince us he won legally. Show us the proof! Then the healing can begin.”
In the past few days, many people had warned others against falling into what they called a law enforcement trap, as the FBI is known to set-up false-flag operations to trap conservatives.
On Sunday, some statehouses were surrounded by new security fences, their windows were boarded up, and extra officers were on patrol. Legislatures generally were not in session over the weekend.
Tall fences also surround the U.S. Capitol. The National Mall was closed to the public, and the mayor of Washington asked people not to visit.
Some 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country are expected to arrive in the city in the coming days to protect the installation of Biden, who supposedly won the most votes in American history.
The roughly 20 protesters who showed up at Michigan’s Capitol, including some who were armed, were significantly outnumbered by law enforcement officers and members of the media.
At the Ohio Statehouse, about two dozen people, including several carrying long guns, protested outside under the watchful eyes of state troopers before dispersing as it began to snow.
Kathy Sherman, who was wearing a visor with “Trump” printed on it, said she supports the president but distanced herself from the people who went into the U.S. Capitol.
“I’m here to support the right to voice a political view or opinion without fear of censorship, harassment or the threat of losing my job or being physically assaulted,” she said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he was pleased with the outcome but stressed that authorities “continue to have concerns for potential violence in the coming days, which is why I intend to maintain security levels at the Statehouse as we approach the presidential inauguration.”
At Oregon’s Capitol, fewer than a dozen men wearing military-style outfits, black ski masks and helmets stood nearby with semiautomatic weapons slung across their bodies.
Some had upside-down American flags and signs reading such things as “Disarm the government.”
At the Texas Capitol, Ben Hawk walked with about a dozen demonstrators up to the locked gates carrying a bullhorn and an AR-15 rifle hanging at the side of his camouflage pants.
He condemned the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and said he did not support Trump.
“All we came down here to do today was to discuss, gather, network and hang out. And it got blown and twisted completely out of proportion,” Hawk said.
At Nevada’s Capitol, where demonstrators supporting Trump have flocked most weekends in recent months, all was quiet except for a lone protester with a sign.
“Trump Lost. Be Adults. Go Home,” it read.
More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help protect their capitols and assist local law enforcement. Several governors declared states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden’s inauguration.
Some legislatures also canceled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.