PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island State House stood fortified Monday after a number of state troopers and military personnel set up a perimeter surrounding Smith Hill over the weekend.
The heightened security is in response to any potential threats that may arise before, during or after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
R.I. State Police Col. James Manni told Target 12 Investigator Tim White that, while they’re hoping for the best, they’re preparing for the worst.
“We are ready for anything that could happen,” he said. “This is a deterrent to anyone that thinks they are going to come to the State House or the Providence area – or anywhere in the state of Rhode Island – and cause some type of disruption.”
Manni increased patrols surrounding the State House last week. By Sunday, military Humvees were seen circling the building while armed troopers and military police stood guard outside.
He reassured Rhode Islanders that no credible threats have been made locally, and the enhanced security at the State House is meant to prevent chaos similar to what happened in the nation’s capital earlier this month.
“January 6 was a game-changer for the entire country,” Manni added. “We are fully prepared to address anything that could come our way if it ever does materialize – whether it’s a large or small group.”
While dozens of R.I. National Guard members have been deployed to the nation’s capital ahead of Inauguration Day, Captain Domenic Fruci said many of the ones who stayed behind are now roaming the halls of the State House.
“We are just here for an abundance of caution,” Fruci said. “[Looking for] anything that might seem out of place. Obviously, tensions are a little high here, and really around the country at this point.”
By Monday, several businesses on Smith Hill had already boarded up their storefronts to protect their livelihoods from looters and vandals should any potential demonstration get out of hand.
Manni said the State House will remain heavily guarded at least through the inauguration, adding that they will stay there “as long as there is a threat to the United States.”