ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Newly-elected lawmakers in the Georgia House of Representatives swore into office on Monday during this year’s first legislative session and under the security of multiple law enforcement agencies after last week’s U.S. Capitol riot.
“I was excited to get sworn in, I had a great day, and I’m looking forward to coming back tomorrow,” said State Senator Sonya Halpern (D-Dist. 39).
— Valencia E. Jones (@vjreports3) January 11, 2021
A big law enforcement presence surrounded them inside and outside of the State Capitol. The new session starts after last week’s insurrection in Washington, D.C., following a rally for President Donald Trump and while Congress worked to certify Joe Biden as the new president. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer and a Georgia woman.
“It was a disgrace, and I hope that everybody understands that rhetoric leads to those kinds of actions,” Halpern said.
On top of Georgia lawmakers taking COVID-19 precautions, a reported internal FBI bulletin warns about armed protests at all 50 state capitols and in Washington ahead of Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
“If our agency receives any information of any threats to the Capitol or even threats period on a daily basis, we’re monitoring that,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Public Affairs Director Nelly Miles, in regard to State Capitol safety.
This is what security looked like today at the Georgia State Capitol for the first day of the 2021 Legislative Session. pic.twitter.com/faf0kvmnrA
— Valencia E. Jones (@vjreports3) January 12, 2021
The GBI says it’s partnering with the Department of Public Safety, along with its troopers and Capitol police officers and Atlanta police. “Everything is safe and secure, and we’ve had no incidents so far at the State Capitol,” said Miles on Monday afternoon.
Many lawmakers are still in shock over last week’s riot, but not concerned. “We’ve got great public safety, officials and officers who are making sure that we stay safe as we do the work of the state,” Halpern said.
A Department of Public Safety spokesperson released the following statement:
The Department of Public Safety, including Capitol Police, and the Georgia State Patrol, continues to monitor protest activity and to evaluate its security measures at the Capitol. However, we do not share our operational plans. We are prepared to respond in the appropriate manner as we have always done in the past. Our primary concern will always be the safety of everyone who works at or visits the Capitol grounds.
The House session continues tomorrow, with lawmakers expected to discuss voting legislation and the state budget.