Plywood and troops to protect Statehouse

Gov. Pritzker announces Illinois National Guard has been activated

click to enlarge Workers installed plywood on certain Capitol windows on Friday. - RACHEL OTWELL
Rachel Otwell
Workers installed plywood on certain Capitol windows on Friday.
Illinois is ramping up efforts to protect the Statehouse in Springfield. That comes in the wake of reports that groups connected to deadly violence in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 might be plotting further actions in capital cities.

On Monday, an FBI memo warned that armed protestors could be headed to state capitals in coming days, through the inauguration on Jan. 20. Gov. JB Pritzker has “activated 250 members of the Illinois National Guard for State Active Duty in response to the warnings issued this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding threats to state capital cities in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden,” according to a Friday news release.

“The Illinois National Guard will not interfere with peaceful protestors exercising their first amendment rights. The role of the soldiers is to aide local authorities in enforcing street closures and designated perimeters,” the release states. The guard is protecting state buildings in concert with Illinois State Police, Illinois Secretary of State Police, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and federal and local counterparts.


On Friday, those working for the Office of the Architect of the Capitol began boarding up some windows at the Statehouse with plywood. That is “at the request – out of an abundance of caution – of the Secretary of State Capitol Police and our law enforcement partners,” according to an emailed statement from a spokesperson for the Illinois Secretary of State.

The Capitol Complex will be closed through Monday, Jan. 18 because of the weekend and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday. Secretary of State Capitol Police continue to work with the Illinois State Police and our law enforcement partners on the status of the complex for Wednesday, Jan. 20,further correspondence from the spokesperson read. As of now, the Capitol Complex will be open on Tuesday, Jan. 19, but the Capitol Building itself will be closed. Secretary of State Capitol Police continue to monitor the situation closely; if anything changes the Capitol Police will proceed accordingly.

As a precaution, state workers are being encouraged to work remotely in coming days, according to a memo sent by the director of the Central Illinois Department of Central Management Services to agency leaders.

Pritzker said at a Friday news conference that 300 additional members of the Illinois National Guard are being sent to assist with the inauguration in Washington D.C. They will join thousands of others “to ensure the sanctity of a peaceful transition – the very core of a strong democracy,” said Prizker. “There’s really no greater duty than that.”

This story has been updated with information from an Illinois Secretary of State spokesperson about the status of the Capitol Complex.

Contact Rachel Otwell at rotwell@illlinoistimes.com.

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