Protesters gather outside state Capitols nationwide as chaos sweeps Congress


Capitol buildings in multiple states were shut down or security around them was bolstered Wednesday in response to local protests and the chaos around Capitol Hill in Washington.

Precautionary measures were taken in Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, Colorado and California.

Meanwhile, rioters invaded Congress, roaming Senate halls and occupying lawmakers’ offices, escalating from protests over the Electoral College vote affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — a Republican who recently earned the ire of the president — and senior members of his staff were evacuated from the state Capitol building Wednesday.

Meanwhile, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Texas closed their state legislative buildings and, in some cases evacuated the employees, as demonstrations grew in support of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly made baseless claims challenging the legitimacy of the election results.

The Capitol grounds in Austin, Texas, were closed to the public Wednesday afternoon “out of an abundance of caution,” the Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

“While we do not discuss operational details, DPS will continue to adjust our operations as needed to maintain public order and address potential threats,” authorities said.

A group gathered outside the Texas Capitol building earlier Wednesday, according to the local media outlet KVUE. State Attorney General Ken Paxton warned that anyone protesting in Austin or Washington, D.C., “should practice their constitutional rights in a peaceful manner.”

“I stand for election integrity and the democratic process,” he tweeted. “I will not tolerate violence and civil disorder.”

Protesters in Kansas entered the state Capitol building, Tom Day, the director of legislative administrative services said, but they were allowed to stay and remained peaceful as of the late afternoon.

Demonstrators also gathered outside the legislative buildings in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Phoenix; Madison, Wisconsin; Denver; and Sacramento, California.

Governors across the country called for peace in their states and in Washington.

In America, we practice peaceful transitions of power. We respect the law and law enforcement. The scene at the United States Capitol right now is wrong and has no place in our form of government. All should denounce, and it should end now.

— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) January 6, 2021

What we’re seeing today is not democracy—it’s an attempted coup.

We had a free and fair election. The results were clear.

Republicans from Pres. Trump to PA legislative leaders need to stop the disinformation and tell their supporters the truth before there’s further violence.

— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) January 6, 2021

In Michigan, several hundred protesters wielded guns and carried “Stop the Steal” signs, the Detroit Free Press reported, but they did not storm the Capitol building or force an evacuation. The building was closed Wednesday.

Protesters in Harrisburg also remained largely peaceful on the sidewalk as they had not obtained a permit to be on the steps, according state officials.

In Sacramento, police reported physical altercations between two groups of demonstrators before they were separated.

Image: Phil McCauslandPhil McCausland

Phil McCausland is an NBC News reporter focused on rural issues and the social safety net.

Image: Minyvonne BurkeMinyvonne Burke

Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

Ezra Kaplan

Ezra Kaplan is a producer for NBC News.

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