Threats of violent cause safety concerns at the Capitol Building in Lansing

At least one Senator has protective riot gear at her desk

Safety concerns at State Capitol in Lansing
Safety concerns at State Capitol in Lansing

LANSING, Mich. – Concerns at the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing are on the rise amid chatter of widespread protests in the days leading up to President-Elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration on Jan. 20.

Under the recommendation of Michigan State Police, a six-foot tall fence around the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing will be completed Friday to guard against the possibility of violence.

Sen. Dayna Polehanki shopped at a military surplus store and brought a helmet, pepper spray and a gas mask to work Wednesday. They join the bulletproof vest she’s had under her desk for the past 10 months, since armed protesters carried guns into the Senate Gallery.

On Monday, the Michigan State Capitol Commission unanimously voted to ban the open carry of guns from inside the Michigan Capitol. Polehanki said the banning of open carry is insufficient.

“That is a half measure that is going to avail us nothing,” Polehanki said. “What it does is create a false sense of security people are safe in our Capitol.”

She will be reintroducing bills to change that.

Michigan State Police circled the Capitol Building in Lansing in large numbers -- on foot and on bikes -- ahead of the fence going up Friday.

Capitol Commission spokesman John Truscott said the FBI warned MSP.

“I have not heard any significant information that says they’re concerned about anything or know of anything, but I think given what’s going on, it’s just prudent to be careful,” Truscott said.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey is concerned about the fence.

“Any action sends a message and we have to ask ourselves what might we be sending,” Shirkey said. “Is it helping or hurting?”

House Speaker Jason Wentworth is counting on MSP.

“We don’t stand for violence, we don’t stand for threats,” Wentworth said. “It’s absolutely despicable.”

The last time a fence went up in Lansing, it was in the 1990s when the Klu Klux Klan held a protest. The fence kept the counter-protesters seperate from the KKK, but did nothing to prevent rocks from being thrown over the fence.

READ: ‘Michigan Capitol is not safe’: AG Dana Nessel warns new ban on firearms not sufficient

Michigan senator calls for ban of all weapons at state Capitol

The FBI warned law enforcement agencies of possible armed protests at state capitols of all 50 states next week.

Additionally, Michigan’s State Capitol Commission voted to ban open carry of firearms at the Capitol on Monday.

Concealed carry guns are still allowed.

READ MORE


About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.