By Guy Page
The following was posted by Chief Brian Peete of the Montpelier Police Department on the departmental Facebook page Saturday at 10:53 a.m.:
Law Enforcement is aware of calls encouraging people to arm themselves and center at all State Capitols in the United States, to include Montpelier, specifically on the date of January 17, 2021. We are also aware of national trends warning of and encouraging an insurrection on January 20, 2021, the date in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President. We are taking these calls extremely seriously and we are planning accordingly.
The Vermont Capitol Police and the Montpelier Police Department have been working with the Vermont State Police, the Vermont Intelligence Center, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, regional municipalities, the Washington County State’s Attorney Office, and federal agencies to include the FBI regarding these events to ensure the safety of the Capitol Complex and the City.
As we call for calm, we encourage everyone to express and conduct themselves peacefully and civilly in these most sensitive of times, and we discourage any provocational acts which would only complicate matters.
The details of the Montpelier Police Department post were confirmed by Capitol Police Chief Matt Romei in an email to Vermont Daily on Monday:
“There are a number of National calls for action that we are watching right now. One calls for an armed march on state capitols next Sunday. Another calls for action between January 17th and 20th (inauguration day). Finally, there have been a number of less-than-pleasant messages communicated to and at various government officials. All that adds up to a volatile situation. We are working with our partners to respond to this issue in an appropriate fashion.”
Speaking to Vermont Public Radio reporter Peter Hirschfeld, Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said Vermont is an “open carry,” state so police don’t mind if protesters are carrying. But they won’t tolerate people pointing guns at other people.
“Open carrying peaceful protests is something that we have seen before in Vermont, and that would not concern me,” Schirling said in a Jan. 10 Vermont Public Radio report. “Something like we saw at the (U.S.) Capitol on Wednesday of course is the absolute worst-case scenario.”
VPR also reported Peete as saying that merely carrying weapons in a protest will not be considered provocative or illegal. “Folks may carry, but we want to make sure there’s no intimidation,” Peete said. “We want to make sure that people aren’t pointing weapons at each other. We want to make sure that people aren’t using weapons against each other, so those are the concerns.”
Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.