RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Police far outnumbered protesters who walked around the North Carolina state Capitol Wednesday, as law enforcement remained on alert for armed demonstrations tied to the inauguration.
Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said she’s “grateful” there were no issues downtown, and the few protesters who turned out remained peaceful.
“We just have to remain vigilant in these very emotional times of transition,” she said. “When there’s such an undertone of potential activity as we saw in DC, we’re grateful when we don’t see something like that evolve and turn into what we saw there.”
The FBI warned of the potential protests in state capitals across the country. Gov. Roy Cooper mobilized about 350 National Guardsmen to help police in Raleigh, also sending about 300 of them to Washington to help with security there as well.
“And, when you see something like that unfold in our nation’s capital, you have to be not only vigilant but foresighted in the overall planning as well,” said Deck-Brown.
Police were visible throughout downtown Wednesday, with several officers standing guard outside the Capitol building as well as at the Governor’s Mansion, Raleigh City Hall and other locations.
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin encouraged people to avoid downtown Wednesday out of concern for what could happen. Wake County and Raleigh city offices closed to the public. State government workers were also encouraged to work remotely Wednesday.
Don Shirley traveled to Raleigh from Beaufort to show his support for former President Donald Trump.
“Any time that you protest, if you protest peacefully you can get what you want done. But, when you start burning people’s businesses down and breaking windows and violence, then you’re not getting anything done,” he said.
Chris Eidse drove from Lenoir hoping to bring a message of unity. He walked around the Capitol holding a sign that read, “Love your neighbor – Jesus.”
“It’s just been on my heart to pray for peace and unity in our country and I thought the least I could do is just come to walk around our Capitol building and pray for peace,” he said. “We want a safe and prosperous country that we can raise our families in. We all want the same thing.”
As long as things remained peaceful in Raleigh for the remainder of Wednesday, museums and government buildings that had closed to the public this week were expected to reopen Thursday.