Officials in local cities are on alert for possible political violence leading up to Joe Biden’s presidential Inauguration Day Jan. 20.
The concerns follow the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by President Trump supporters attempting to halt the certification of Biden’s winning Electoral College votes, and the U.S. House of Representatives’ impeachment of Trump on a charge of inciting the attack. The FBI, according to national media reports, has warned law enforcement agencies about possible protests or attacks by armed right-wing groups in every state capital this weekend and related dangers to any government facility.
Some state lawmakers have expressed concerns about danger to the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. Gov. Brian Kemp has said the threat to the Capitol appears to be low but that state law enforcement and the Georgia National Guard will be ready to respond. Various Atlanta sites have increased security, and Fulton County has announced the closure Jan. 19-20 of its downtown government facilities that remained open during the pandemic. DeKalb County also announced the Jan. 19-20 closure of court and Board of Equalization offices.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety would not discuss any special security preparations at the Governor’s Mansion, located on West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, but indicated that residential neighbors should not be impacted. “To my knowledge, there is nothing that would affect residents’ access to adjacent streets,” said Lt. W. Mark Riley, a spokesperson for the department and the Georgia State Patrol.
Officials in cities in Reporter communities mostly declined comment on security specifics. But Dunwoody said its police department is increasing its patrols and, along with Brookhaven, reported there have been no specific threats to local government facilities.
“The Dunwoody Police Department is located in City Hall, and we provide security for the building on a day-to-day basis,” said Police Chief Billy Grogan in a written statement provided through a city spokesperson. “At this time, there has been no specific threat to the city of Dunwoody. However, we are increasing our patrols as a precaution and participating in all relevant intelligence briefings on this critical issue.”
The Brookhaven Police Department does not discuss security preparations, said spokesperson Lt. David Snively. But, he said, “I can share that our department is actively monitoring information from local, state and federal agencies … to ensure we’re best prepared to maintain effective police services. I can also share that we are not aware of any specific threats to locations within Brookhaven.”
In Sandy Springs, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said, “We are working closely with state and federal partners and are prepared to respond to our community’s needs. As you can understand, for security reasons, I am not able to provide any additional detail.”
Georgia has played a special role in the Nov. 3 election controversy and conspiracy theories that fueled the Capitol attack. Trump has expressed particular disbelief and fury that he lost the Georgia vote. The impeachment resolution cites a leaked recording of a phone call where Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state. Raffensperger reportedly evacuated his State Capitol office Jan. 6 due to Trump supporter protests happening simultaneously with the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Gabriel Sterling, a well-known Sandy Springs political figure, managed the Nov. 3 election for Raffensperger and drew international media attention for repeatedly challenging Trump’s conspiracy theories and, five weeks before the U.S. Capitol attack, for rebuking the president for inflaming supporters who were making threats of violence and killings. Sterling said last month he was the target of death threats and hacking attempts and was receiving police protection.