FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky is prepared to respond to any threats in its capital city, Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday in announcing that state national guardsmen will assist with security.
“We will have the sufficient resources," the Democratic governor said at a news conference. "We will be prepared to ensure that what happened in the U.S. Capitol does not happen here in Kentucky.”
Beshear referred to the deadly siege of the nation's Capitol last week. The FBI has since warned of plans for armed protests at state capitals across the country and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, stoking fears of more bloodshed.
About 270 Kentucky National Guard members will be sent to the nation's capital this weekend to assist security operations, the governor said. He said those guardsmen will help ensure the peaceful transfer of power, which he called a “bedrock” of American democracy.
The Guard also has been activated to assist with security in the state capital of Frankfort, he said.
Beshear didn’t offer details of security plans to protect the seat of state government from any possible unrest, saying: “I don’t want to give these domestic terrorists our game plan."
He then added: "We’ll be ready.”
Last Saturday, about 100 protesters — many of them armed — gathered outside the Kentucky Capitol while the legislature was in session.
Last year, armed protesters upset with the governor's coronavirus restrictions gathered near Beshear's home and then hanged him in effigy in a tree near the State Capitol. Beshear later vowed not to back down and condemned their use of “fear and terror.”
Beshear has denounced those involved in storming of the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorists.”
“We cannot view these things as simply people who dress up like it’s Halloween and want to seem tough and then go home," he said. "We saw an attack on our nation’s Capitol.”
The governor ended his news conference, which dealt mostly with the COVID-19 outbreak, with a call for unity against any violence and an appeal to help steer those sympathizing with such unrest away from having any part in it.
The governor cautioned that violence must not become “our new normal" and added, “If you have someone that you know that’s fallen into this track, talk to them, try to help them out. Have your minister call them. Find whatever it is you need to do so that we don’t have more people that go down this path.”
But he also promised: “I want to make sure in the coming days that certainly this city is safe and that we do what it takes to protect this Capitol, our house, from any threat that’s out there.”