TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State Capitol and surrounding community are bracing for potentially violent protests in the coming days leading up to next week’s inauguration.
Law enforcement has already instituted a 24/7 command post.
Historically, security breaches at the State Capitol have been few and far between.
In 1979, death penalty protestors disrupted the Governors’s outer office during the state’s first execution in more than a decade.
Protestors tied up phone lines, potentially disrupting communication with the state prison.
“Stay it. Stay it. You god damn beasts,” said Jimmy Lohman during the protest.
Lohman is now a lawyer representing death row inmates.
“I was rather emotionally worked up at the time,” said Lohman.
He tells us what happened in 1979 is a far cry from the take over of the nation’s Capitol last week.
“It was planned and permitted. I don’t think there’s much they have in common. There was no significant breach of security,” said Lohman.
In 1991, college student Marshall Ledbetter was high on mushrooms when he broke in and took over a senate office.
Police feared he was armed.
“He has indicated he does have hostages. Whether or not he does, we’ll know in the next little while,” said Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell during the incident.
A standoff lasted for hours.
In the end, Ledbetter surrendered.
He faced charges, underwent mental treatment and was released.
In 2013 the Dream Defenders refused to leave the hallway in front of the Governor’s office for 31 days.
“I think it’s passion that keeps us going,” said one of the protesters interviewed during the incident.
Rules at the time that let them stay have now been changed.
Most recently, in the aftermath of the Parkland shootings, some students refused to leave some legislative offices without a meeting. No one was arrested.
And if protestors do come to the Capitol this weekend, they’ll find buildings empty except for law enforcement.
Security at the Capitol was significantly strengthened following the 9-11 attacks and is expected to involve federal state and local law enforcement this weekend and beyond.