City, county offices closed as downtown Raleigh braces for possible armed protests

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — State government employees who work in downtown Raleigh are being told to work remotely Wednesday out of concern for protests tied to the inauguration.

Police have been on guard at the State Capitol for days and have been monitoring other locations downtown following the warning from the FBI about the potential for armed protests.

Courts in Wake County closed to the public Tuesday and Wednesday, a step District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said had not been taken in response to potential protests before.

“I think right now law enforcement is very much prepared in the event that anything possibly could happen. What we don’t want to see is a repeat of what happened in Washington, D.C., last week,” said Freeman.  

Some court services have been moved to other locations. A sign on the courthouse said that civil filings are being accepted at the Wake County Commons Building at 4011 Carya Drive in Raleigh.

Freeman said court officials wanted to free up law enforcement officers who may ordinarily help provide security in court to be able to respond to protests if they occur.

“We were already running such fewer courts because of COVID this week, that it was something that at the end of the day in trying to support law enforcement in what they’re doing it just made sense in an abundance of caution,” she said.

Local law enforcement officials who’ve spoken to CBS 17 said they have not been made aware of a specific threat to Raleigh beyond the warning issued by the FBI in regard to capital cities across America.

“Everybody is certainly in the intelligence arena, in the law enforcement arena, they are keeping their ears to the ground. I think at this point we anticipate things are going to be relatively quiet. But, those things can change in a moment,” said Freeman.

The Office of State Human Resources posted an alert on its website Tuesday saying that the downtown government complex would be closed to non-essential employees Wednesday.

However, Ryan Bower, a spokesman for the agency, said that’s inaccurate.

Rather, he said employees are being asked to telework “to the greatest extent possible.” Many already do because of the pandemic, he said.

State museums near the Capitol Building are closed until Thursday.

In an email, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources spokesperson Michele Walker wrote, “Employees were instructed to continue to telework to the greatest extent possible on scheduled work days. Employees with questions regarding telework were also advised to discuss with their supervisors. Some employees classified as ‘mandatory’ continued to work in person as needed.”

Local officials, including Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, are encouraging people to avoid downtown Raleigh on Wednesday.

Both the city and Wake County have closed offices and asked employees to work from home.

“That’s what you have to do is prepare for the worst, and the worst is based on what we saw (Jan. 6) in our nation’s capital,” said Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker.

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