AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some have concerns about safety around the Texas State Capitol after armed protesters showed up for the first day of the legislative session Tuesday.
In some photos, Chairman of the Texas Republican Party Allen West could be seen posing with members of an armed militia group.
There were no acts of violence, but it came after the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned armed demonstrations are being planned at all 50 state capitols.
“This morning there were a lot of questions,” said District 26 Sen. José Menéndez. “We had a lot of questions. We knew that there had been a lot of chatter of wanting to disrupt the process.”
Menéndez and a few others had asked Gov. Greg Abbott ahead of time not to allow the general public to carry guns inside the Capitol on the first day of the session. Menéndez says that request went unanswered.
However, he felt an increased law enforcement presence and COVID-19 testing outside of the Capitol building helped keep things calm inside.
He says everyone being required to go through the state’s rapid testing tents before entering helped slow down the process of visitors entering.
“We could actually have a conversation with people, we could see what their business is, so that we could take a minute to see what’s going on, and they can see that the Capitol is heavily fortified and protected,” he said.
Down the road, some businesses began boarding up in anticipation of protests leading up to Inauguration Day.
Buford Snyder, who owns Snyder Commercial Glass Service says his company has begun getting quite a few calls and emails asking for help with that.
“It’s a matter of how much wood can we get, how fast can we get it, how many people can we mobilize at one time,” Snyder said.
His crews boarded up several businesses downtown Tuesday.
“It’s preparation for worst case scenario of some violent protesters,” Snyder said. “It’s a good precautionary thing, because it’s way cheaper to buy wood than it is to buy glass and metal, and it helps keeping people from getting inside.”
However, Menéndez hopes it doesn’t come to that in Austin. He feels the heavy security presence at the state Capitol will act as a deterrent.
“It’s important for people to realize that we’re not going to be caught off guard like the Capitol police were in Washington,” Menéndez said.
Menéndez added that he feels people who don’t work at the Capitol shouldn’t be carrying guns inside of it. He says he’ll continue to advocate for that, because he believes it would make the state Capitol safer.