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Gov. Stitt activates more guardsmen this weekend amid threats to state Capitols nationwide

Gov. Stitt activates more guardsmen this weekend amid threats to state Capitols nationwide

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday activated about 100 members of the Oklahoma National Guard following reports of possible armed protests at state capitols across the country.

“I support the right of Oklahomans to peacefully demonstrate, but we will not tolerate violence or damage to property,” Stitt said. “At the request of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the National Guard has been authorized to provide support as needed.”

State officials have said no credible threat has been identified in the state, but that increased safety measures are in response to intelligence shared by federal law enforcement.

The action comes after supporters of President Donald Trump last week stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the 2020 presidential election certification process. Five people died, and property was destroyed by the violent mob.

Trump was impeached earlier this week by the U.S. House for inciting insurrection. He is the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

Increased security measures have been put in place at the U.S. Capitol ahead of the upcoming inauguration.

The Oklahoma Capitol will be open as usual during the weekend, officials said. Those entering the building must pass a security checkpoint.

The Oklahoma National Guard will be activated from Saturday until Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, an increased Oklahoma Highway Patrol presence was apparent outside the Capitol.

The House, Senate and the Governor’s Office earlier in the week advised lawmakers and staff not to come to the Capitol during the weekend.

“The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Oklahoma National Guard have trained together to be prepared for the type of events that may be happening over the next week,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Scully. “Cooperation with our partners is essential and we appreciate the collaboration within the law enforcement and military community. Our goal is to protect peaceful demonstrators while also protecting lives and preventing property destruction.”

Capt. Brian Orr of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said weapons are not allowed inside the Capitol but are allowed outside.

“Here in Oklahoma, we have open carry,” Orr said. “You have the right to carry that weapon.”

Orr said the National Guard will be in the area, if needed, but what people will predominately see is an increased number of state troopers in the area and on the grounds.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers are well-trained and know how to take care of events, Orr said.

“We ask if you do have any plans to come up here and get out of line, please don’t,” Orr said. “You have the right to assemble and protest, and we will protect your rights, but we will also protect our state Capitol, our property and the citizens of Oklahoma.”

If there is a flareup, it will be handled quickly, he said.

The Oklahoma National Guard maintains a Reaction Force year-round. The purpose is to come to the aid of Oklahomans following natural disasters, such as tornadoes, but its secondary mission is to support law enforcement.

About 400 members of Oklahoma National Guard had earlier been called to join units from 43 other states to assist Washington, D.C., law enforcement around the inauguration set for Jan. 20.

Video: State capitols step up security amid threats

State capitols across the nation have stepped up security, deploying National Guard units, SWAT teams and extra police officers amid heightened safety concerns following last week's violence at the U.S. Capitol.

Photos: National Guard troops deployed on Capitol Hill

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