Security Plans for General Assembly Session Ongoing

Jan 12, 2021

When Twitter permanently banned President Donald, it cited plans for attacks on unnamed state capitols.

With Virginia's General Assembly session set to begin Wednesday, preparations are in high gear. 

Virginia Capitol Police spokesperson Joe Macenka says that increasing police presence has less to do with last week's attack, and is more routine. "Are we ramping up around here? Yes. Does it have anything to do with what's going on in Washington truthfully?  Not really," Macenka said in an interview. "It's just kind of strange timing."

On Wednesday, Capitol Police and the Department of General Services sealed off capitol square in response to the attack on the US Capitol, but removed barriers and fences the next day. Virginia's recent history has some special relevance for the events in D. C.  Participants in a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville were in Washington last Wednesday. 

Charlottesville Delegate Sally Hudson says being aware of that history helped law enforcement plan for last year's massive gun-rights demonstration.   "The Virginia State Police and the Capitol Police were prepared because they knew to take it seriously because there had already been a similar organizing on Virginia soil," Hudson said. "I think what we saw in D. C. this last week was a failure of the federal government to do the same.

The offices of the Speaker of the House of Delegates and Governor Ralph Northam didn't return requests for comment on this story.  A later statement from Capitol Police said the agency has been planning for "quite some time" but would not share operational or intelligence details.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.