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Springfield Prepares For Possible Armed Protests Ahead Of Inauguration, But All Quiet So Far This Weekend

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Illinois State Capitol is on alert this weekend, following FBI warnings that it could be the target of violent protesters, but so far this weekend all has been quiet outside the statehouse.

CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reports only about a dozen protesters showed up for what was dubbed the "Save Our State" rally at noon outside the Illinois State Capitol complex.

People who live nearby said those same protesters show up every Saturday to protest whatever is on their minds.

Preparations had been in place should the "Save Our State" rally turn violent, because the FBI had put out information putting all 50 state capital cities on alert for the possibility of armed protests at capitol buildings in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, following last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

That threat never materialized in Springfield on Saturday, but preparations have been taken should there be any unrest before Wednesday.

Parts of the Illinois State Capitol building have been boarded up, and earlier this week Gov. JB Pritzker activated 250 Illinois National Guard troops to protect the Capitol building and other state buildings in downtown Springfield if protests occurred and became violent.

"I think the security posture is there to ensure our citizens that they can feel safe, and that's one of those things We're just here to ensure that something doesn't happen, and that if something does happen, we can quickly ensure … the return of peace if there was some type of protest that got out of hand," said Maj. Gen. Richard Neely, Commander of the Illinois National Guard and Adjutant General of Illinois.

In addition to the National Guard, the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department, Illinois Secretary of State Capitol Police, and other law enforcement agencies will be on standby should they be needed over the next several days.

But the hope for many in Springfield is that it will remain calm throughout Biden's inauguration.

It was a similar scene at the capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota, where there were a handful of people milling about with lots of security on hand, but no trouble.

Many roads around the Minnesota state capitol are shut down, with state troopers and the National Guard visible. Even blue mailboxes near the capitol are being yanked out temporarily.

There are no credible threats in Minnesota, but officials are taking no chances and preparing for anything.

An even quieter scene at the Pennsylvania capitol. A bright orange fence with signs that read "No Access Beyond This Point" greet anyone who comes close. Just a couple of people were milling about on Saturday, but all in all it was a very quiet day in Harrisburg.

The FBI has warned of the potential for armed protests in all 50 state capitols in the days leading up to the inauguration.

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