Police, businesses prepare for potential protests in Pennsylvania's capital

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Potential protests at state capitals around the country have people in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania taking precautions.

Businesses around the Capitol Complex are looking at their options after police began stepping up security.

Roxy's Diner, a staple in the Capital City, is listening to the warnings.

"We decided to be closed Sunday through Thursday to make sure everyone is safe, customers and our staff are safe," said employee Marilu Saldana.

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Saldana says they are still contemplating if they will board up their windows.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are preparing for the worst-case scenarios following an FBI memo.

The memo, released this week in the wake of last Wednesday's deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol, warns of armed protests planned in all 50 state capitals from January 16 through at least Inauguration Day.

Harrisburg officials are concerned about Sunday in particular.

State, city and capitol police held a joint news conference Thursday saying they are using all means necessary to deter protestors.

"We have increased our visibility with members of our special response team now patrolling the capitol grounds in their full SRT gear. These are highly trained individuals who specialize in crisis response situations, tense situations, de-escalation situations and other special response tactics," said Capitol Police Chief Joe Jacobs.

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There was no heavy presence on Friday, but Capitol police were continuously circling the grounds. While we did not see heavily armed officers outside, some staffers say they did see them inside.

Barricades were up outside and Capitol police will close the complex in anticipation of riots. The Capitol was closed to the public Friday.

Staffers are off Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and some Senate staffers were told to work remotely through Thursday because of concerns.

Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo said if armed protestors do come here, there are some things they should keep in mind in regards to firearms laws - especially because Governor Tom Wolf declared a state of emergency.

"Unless the person is actively defending themselves from a real immediate threat or has a license to carry, issued by the sheriff in their own county, then they can't carry during a state of emergency," said Chardo.

He added that if the capitol is closed during the protests he will prosecute trespassers.

"If you are committing a crime while armed, the deadly weapon enhancement applies during sentencing guidelines," he said.
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