The governor of Florida has activated the National Guard to protect against “potential civil unrest” surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, as armed groups are expected to protest at statehouses across the country this weekend.
The order signed by Governor Ron DeSantis — which took effect immediately and lasts through January 24 — calls on National Guard troops to support local and state law enforcement.
The governor’s order comes as authorities are on high alert after last week’s attack on the US Congress in Washington by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.
Law enforcement officials have warned that armed groups plan to protest at statehouses across the country in the days surrounding Biden’s inauguration Wednesday in Washington.
DeSantis’s order came after federal authorities arrested an Army veteran who urged armed counter-protesters to turn out at Florida’s state Capitol.
Daniel Baker, of Tallahassee, was arrested after calling on social media for an armed response to protesters who are expected to gather at the Florida statehouse this Sunday, a Justice Department statement said.
“Extremists intent on violence from either end of the political and social spectrums must be stopped, and they will be stopped,” said Lawrence Keefe, US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
“We will not stop in our efforts to detect, deter and disrupt anyone else planning to incite or commit violence,” he added.
Prosecutors said Baker was actively recruiting, and posted videos showing himself with numerous weapons.
On January 6, a mob of Trump supporters — who do not recognize his defeat at the polls — stormed the Capitol in Washington in an attack that left five people dead.
Trump has built a strong base in the battleground state of Florida, thanks to support from rural white voters and far-right Latinos.