Heavy security surrounds Capitol in Hartford as protest fizzles

Photo of Ken Dixon

HARTFORD — Hundreds of state and local police joined the Connecticut National Guard and State Capitol Police in gathering at the state Capitol early Sunday morning in anticipation of protests as part of a lingering national backlash against President Donald Trump’s reelection loss.

But the show of police presence was for naught. By 12:45 p.m., fewer than a handful of protesters stopped in at the 14-acre Capitol complex.

State troopers checked in and were assigned to positions on the property for response to possible demonstrators. By noon, only about three protesters were on the scene.

As the protest’s planned starting time of noon came and went, it was clear that not much of a demonstration would occur in a state that President-elect Joe Biden won by a landslide 20 percent.

Outside the Gov. William A. O’Neill Armory, military tactical-support vehicles in desert camouflage were parked at the ready on a clear morning with temperatures still in the 30s.

The Connecticut State Police assembled in the area near the Legislative Office Building, next to the Capitol, and the parking garage.

There was fencing set up around the Capitol building. And the circular driveway in the front of the building was also blocked off to traffic.

Road closures nearby

In nearby West Hartford, police said some roads are closed to traffic on Sunday as police prepare for possible protests. Traffic is not be allowed in the following area, which is near the governor’s mansion on the Hartford border:

*Belknap Road and Sycamore Lane from Prospect Avenue

*Sycamore Road, Golf Road and Vardon Road from Asylum Avenue

*Bainton Road from Albany Avenue

*Belknap Road from Whetten Road

Police said the closures are in effect from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Across the country

With the threat of extremist groups descending on statehouses across the country on Sunday, governors were setting up security measures, with fences, boarded-up windows and police formations in place at many capitols.

This comes less than two weeks after a mob overran the nation’s Capitol and just days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The FBI has warned of the possibility of protests at the nation’s Capitol and all 50 state capitol buildings beginning this weekend. Social media messages targeted Sunday for demonstrations, although it remained unclear whether or where protests would be staged.

Security in Washington, D.C., has intensified ahead of the inauguration. Tall fencing surrounds the U.S. Capitol, the National Mall is closed to the public, and the District of Columbia’s mayor asked people not to visit.

About 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country were due in DC this week. On Sunday, National Guard troops were stationed outside the Capitol with officers from the Customs and Border Protection as well as other federal police.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.