With an increased threat of domestic terrorism at state capitols following the Jan. 6 attack by on the U.S. Capitol and to ensure the safety of Frankfort residents, Gov. Andy Beshear has heightened security measures, including closing the Capitol grounds on Sunday.
“There have been domestic terror threats against state capitols all over the United States. Our commitment is that what happened at the U.S. Capitol will not happen here,” Beshear said in a news release. “We have the commitment and participation of the Kentucky State Police, Frankfort Police and the Kentucky National Guard to ensure the safety of everyone in this area. There have been no requests for permits for gatherings at the Capitol in the coming days, so there are no gatherings or rallies that can or should be happening.”
The FBI warned of a right-wing march on the U.S. Capitol that was scheduled for Sunday and had been advertised for several weeks.
A flyer that was sent online to various groups in mid-December states, “When democracy is destroyed, Refuse To Be Silenced: Armed March on Capitol Hill and All State Capitols, Jan. 17, 2021 @ 12 p.m.”
The flyer added, in smaller print, “Over two hundred years ago, our founding fathers fought for the rights and liberties of this nation. Don’t let their efforts be in vain. Demand freedom. End the corruption. Stand up for liberty.”
A group called Defensive Training Group featured the flyer on its website on Dec. 23, though it was only forwarding the message. It’s unclear when it was first sent out or who conceived of the protest.
According to the flyer, the protest would be "the single largest protest advocating for the rights and freedoms of all people in the United States."
"In every capitol in every U.S. state and at the federal Capitol in Washington, D.C., attendees are asked to arrive armed with signs, sound making devices, speeches planned and whatever attire makes their statement the most pronounced," the flyer said.
Beshear acknowledged that the closure of the Capitol grounds Sunday would inconvenience some in the area.
“We appreciate everyone’s understanding and your patriotism,” he said. “Domestic terror is never OK. We must stop it every time we see it, and we cannot let what we saw at the U.S. Capitol become a new normal for this country.”
Frankfort leaders are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of citizens and has been in contact with the governor's office, emergency management, KSP, Frankfort Police Department and the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. A safety plan is in place and the situation will be continually monitored.
Frankfort residents are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings and any suspicious behavior. Any suspicious activity should be reported to local law enforcement by calling 911. Residents are also advised to avoid the Capitol grounds over the weekend.
“The Frankfort Police Department and our Emergency Management team is working with all appropriate agencies to protect the areas surrounding the Capitol and to ensure the safety of everyone in the community should there be any unplanned demonstrations," said Mayor Layne Wilkerson.
"The governor and all entities are working together to ensure residents of the City of Frankfort, especially those residents in South Frankfort, are safe should any situations arise," added Judge-Executive Huston Wells. "We ask that everyone avoid the Capitol area over the weekend out of precaution."
If necessary, public updates will be shared through the Ready Frankfort smart phone app, and shared on the City of Frankfort and Ready Frankfort social media pages.
Brig. Gen. Haldane "Hal" B. Lamberton, adjutant general of the Kentucky National Guard, said guard soldiers’ involvement in the security effort has been approved.
Acting Commissioner Lt. Col. Phillip Burnett Jr. of KSP said the measures were necessary to protect both the public and state buildings.
“In order to protect all citizens, the Kentucky State Police provides security at the state Capitol. KSP has not received any requests or notifications of a rally. However, precautions have been put in place to ensure the safety of both the public and state buildings, and will be adjusted as needed,” Burnett said. “In an effort to minimize the potential of an extreme event, Capitol grounds will be closed on Sunday.”