SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Governor JB Pritzker activated the Illinois National Guard in response to FBI warnings of possible threats at state capitol buildings across the country.
Despite warnings from the FBI about potential trouble at state capitals across the country, in Springfield there were hundreds of police and soldiers and exactly one protester.
"We’re just out so that people can see," said Major Alexander Ruggieri of the Illinois National Guard. "Obviously we're denying access to vehicles to certain places like the Capitol building."
Illinois’ Capitol building looks like an armed encampment, with streets closed for blocks around the Capitol complex as local law-enforcement, state police and national guardsmen toting rifles stood watch for the protest crowd that never materialized.
"The reason you probably don’t see many people out here is because the security is at such a high level," said Major General Rich Neely. "Some people probably saw things get out of control in DC and they really don’t want to see that happen across their nation."
Only one person showed up in Springfield to protest, representing Black Lives Matter on the other end of the political spectrum.
"I think that might show which side is winning," protester John Keating said. "I mean the far-right protesters, the bigots aren’t here. But the folks who believe in a just society are."
Police and soldiers were also positioned at other Springfield landmarks: The old State Capitol building and the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Library.
For Springfield residents, it is all a jarring site but one that is welcome in these turbulent times.
"It’s unusual to see the military and the police and everything so big out here," resident Joshua Cole said.
"We both have family and loved ones involved, so we’re just kind of here to see what’s happening and make sure everybody’s OK," said resident Courtney Wilson.
The head of Illinois’ National Guard says it is likely this heavy security presence will remain in place at least through Wednesday, which is the day Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the nation’s 46th president.