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Florida prepares for potential protests, unrest ahead of Inauguration Day

The Florida Capitol
Posted at 11:21 PM, Jan 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 02:46:48-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The new year is off to a bit of a heated start. Division among political parties is ever increasing as the United States prepares to inaugurate a new president on Wednesday.

Florida law enforcement and leaders are hoping for the best, but planning for the unexpected. They are making sure people know that they are taking every potential threat seriously after what happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

Currently, members of the Florida National Guard are monitoring the Florida State Capitol from the ground up. Governor Ron DeSantis activated the National Guard through January 24th, or until their assistance is complete.

The Tallahassee Police Department also confirmed in an email to ABC Action News on Sunday that Florida's Capitol is secure.

It was a mostly quiet day at the Florida Capitol on Sunday. One man showed up with a goal of "spreading love."

Person waves to passersby at Florida Capitol
Person waves to passersby at Florida Capitol

And another group showed up saying they don't consider themselves to be among the "left" or "right" groups, but rather, Americans.

Protesters at Florida Capitol

Across the panhandle in Jacksonville, the leader of the FBI Jacksonville Division released a statement Friday, assuring the community they are ready to respond to any threat of violence.

We will not tolerate those who seek to wreak havoc in our communities, and we have deployed our full investigative resources to this effort. This includes, but is not limited to, hundreds of agents and analysts who are working around the clock to hold accountable those who were responsible for the violent actions at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and to identify, investigate, and disrupt individuals who are intent on inciting more violence in the future.
Rachel L. Rojas

But what exactly does our risk look like in the Sunshine State?

“Most of the types of attacks that we would likely see from these actors are going to be targeted in nature. Directed at symbolic targets, or targets that are perceived as representative of the enemy,” said Craig Gundry, Vice President of Special Projects at Critical Intervention Services.

Gundry has spent the last 30 years managing risks of targeted violence, both with the U.S. Army, and also in prevention of school and workplace violence.

“In the Florida Capitol, The fact that our governor has been very supportive of President Trump, and that we have a very friendly legislature to the interest of President Trump, and we were not a point of dispute in the election, greatly reduces the risk that we’ll see any kind of violence,” said Gundry.

It's a different story outside Florida, though. On the heels of U.S. Capitol riots, as the U.S. prepares for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“My greater concern is actually after the inauguration is over. The next year that we’re moving into. As now, many of these groups which previously had been very disassociated, now are becoming very cross-pollinated. Not just in terms of their beliefs, but also in terms of their connections to others within movements that previously had very little connection before,” said Gundry.

Gundry, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are urging people, if you see something, report it.

“The FBI right now is extraordinarily reliant on this kind of cooperation by the public, in order to help advance their public safety goals,” said Gundry.

You can report suspicious information to FDLE by calling 1-800-FLA-SAFE.