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Montpelier prepares for potential protests

Police in Montpelier prepare for potential protests
Police in Montpelier prepare for potential protests
Published: Jan. 17, 2021 at 11:43 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2021 at 2:16 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Multiple law-enforcement agencies were at the Vermont Capitol Complex Sunday, in preparation for potential protests.

The team included Vermont State Police, Montpelier Police Department and Capitol Police Department.

“This is a precautionary response to potential disruptions or violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., and calls for nationwide action including an “armed march” in all state capitals,” Vt. State Police spokesman Adam Silverman said in an emailed statement.

Police said they are unaware of any specific, credible threats directed toward the Statehouse, Montpelier or elsewhere.

Throughout the day, no incidents were reported and no group had gathered to protest the results of the presidential election. One protester held a sign that said “Canadians for Trump!”

However, our Erin Brown interviewed two counter-protesters who identified themselves as members of ANTIFA. They said they were in Montpelier to send a message that what happened at the U.S. Capitol won’t be tolerated in Vermont.

“The more anti-fascists show up in large groups, the more we can intimidate the far-right to say - and it does work. It has shown that when far-right are planning rallies and anti-fascists show up instead, the far-right often cancel,” said Belynda Jestice. “They don’t show up at all. And that’s the plan. The plan is just to let them know that we’re here and it’s not gonna happen and we’re gonna make sure of that.”

At Montpelier City Hall, our Calvin Cutler found three dozen counter-protesters.

The group organized the event on Facebook and Front Porch Forum. It was supposed to happen on the Statehouse lawn but was moved to City Hall.

In the days leading up to Sunday, law enforcement and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott implored people not to go out and protest, including counter-protesters. The people WCAX News spoke with say they defied the governor’s request because the government can’t be trusted to fight fascism.

“I don’t think that’s reliable to only rely on the government, " said Paul Fleckenstein, a counter-protester. “I think history shows that opposing the far-right demands that there be active mobilizing and protests for people that was a different future.”

The group also served free food and gave out free masks. Community members say they hand out free food every week.

Like any typical Sunday, the Capitol building and other buildings in the complex were closed.

Police continue to ask the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious people, incidents or possible threats to local law enforcement. Tips also may be submitted anonymously online at www.vtips.us.

Watch the replays of our live Special Reports below.

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