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Capitol Square re-opens; police prepare for 2021 General Assembly session

Posted at 12:57 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 12:57:58-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia's Capitol Square reopened Thursday morning after police closed it Wednesday when a pro-Trump mob stormed the nation's Capitol.

"We’ve all seen the video we’ve all seen the still photos. There’s some pretty stark images of what happened up there," Virginia Capitol Police spokesperson Joe Macenka said.

Macenka, said around 3 p.m. police closed the gates to Virginia's Capitol Square out of an abundance of caution but opened them Thursday morning with no incidents.

Macenka added that the square was secure.

"That’s why we reopened the gates this morning, like I said, you can see folks are out walking their dogs and stuff like that -- just trying to enjoy their day," said Macenka. "But when violence occurs, or there’s a threat of violence, you know you have to take that seriously. We counted in the neighborhood of 17 different states yesterday that had Trump supporters protesting at their state capitols. So for us not to prepare for the possibility of something like that occurring here I think would be an error on our part."

Macenka said police planned to ramp up security around the Capitol in the coming days, but not necessarily due to Wednesday's violence in D.C.

"We are ramping up our operations, but it would be misleading to say that maybe it was a direct result of what happened yesterday," said Macenka. "The simple fact is the 2021 General Assembly Session is upon us, and starting tomorrow the legislatures are moving in."

With that 2021 session on the way, and Lobby Day set for January 18, Macenka said Capitol Police were taking their responsibility to create a safe environment for people to have their voices heard very seriously. He said police were prepared for any incidents, working closely with Richmond Police and Virginia State Police -- but urged the public to choose peaceful methods of making their voices heard.

"Please remember it's your government, it's your building, these are your legislators," said Macenka. "I'm not sure what violence -- I don't understand how it helps... stuff like that it doesn’t help accomplish anything it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths."