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Police on horseback, drones: PA Capitol grounds tighten security

As states across the nation tighten security for possible demonstrations ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, downtown Harrisburg, which houses Pennsylvania’s State Capitol, is filled with police on horseback, guards and the press with businesses boarding up and locals largely staying away. Christopher Booker reports.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    With more than a third of the states calling out the National Guard to help secure their state capitals, we checked in with reporters at some of our partner public media stations across the country.

    We began with our own Christopher Booker, who is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the statehouse. Chris, what are you seeing in Harrisburg?

  • Christopher Booker:

    Well, it's cloudy, cold and quiet.

    The Capitol Police, the state police and the National Guard are here and they've closed off the entrances to the Capitol building, as well as many of the streets that surround it.

    But by and large, there's not much happening. The grounds are open, but they're largely being populated by press. We've seen a handful of people come and go, but no semblance of a demonstration or protest.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Give us the landscape if you can. What do you see around you in what proportions?

  • Christopher Booker:

    Yeah, I mean, downtown Harrisburg is a beautiful old downtown. The businesses have all closed. There was a coffee shop that we went to that was only open for a few hours. But as it stands now in downtown, you see police on horseback and press. That's it. There's a few people that will come by, maybe a jogger or just someone walking their dog. But it's all press and all police.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Have you had a chance to speak to kind of any of the locals around there? I mean, how do they feel about what's happening and what the threat is to them?

  • Christopher Booker:

    We have spoken to a number of locals, a gentleman who is just here just before we started to talk, kind of shook his head and said, I've never seen downtown Harrisburg this quiet. And you have seen people kind of come out of churches and look at basically all the press in the Capitol and the police show of force. And everyone seems to be kind of just shaking their heads, shrugging and walking away.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And what are the Capitol Police or anybody concerned about? Is it just today or is it a days coming up?

  • Christopher Booker:

    Well, I think it's largely today and the days to come. There are police on horseback. We've seen a number of drones fly overhead. The governor has asked his employees to work from home Tuesday and Wednesday, and they have also not issued any permits for demonstrations or protests. But by and large, no one really knows what's going to happen. The information we have is what everyone else has. The FBI indicated that they were seeing chatter that there might be demonstrations at state capitols across the country. But here as it is right now, there's nothing happening.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So you said there are a few people showing up, but who are they?

  • Christopher Booker:

    It's really difficult to say, but we did see three counter-protesters, if that's what we want to call them, they had constructed a life-sized Donald Trump and knocked it over, essentially symbolizing the end of his presidency. And we have heard one gentleman was talking through the bullhorn, through a bullhorn, talking about the steal, but he left. And it's really quiet now and there's not much happening at all.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Christopher Booker joining us from Pennsylvania's capitol in Harrisburg. Thanks so much, Chris.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Thank you.

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