The Georgia National Guard has hundreds of men and women arriving in D.C. Saturday to help protect President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne and photographer Brian Ferguson are the only news crew embedded with the troops and will bring live coverage through Wednesday’s inauguration.
“The overall goal is for us to help support local and federal law enforcement agencies,” Captain Ryan Steiner said. “I believe, as a whole, we can act as a deterrent to ensure a safe and smooth transition.”
[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]
Winne talked to Sg. Romain Minnott, an airline ramp agent. In the Guard, he serves as an infantryman.
“I feel it’s really important to our state, but to our country as well to come together,” Minott said.
One soldier, specialist Vanessa Young, is pulling double-duty during the pandemic, protecting the Capitol and also working on the frontlines of COVID-19. She’s a medic in the Guard, but in civilian life, she works at Grady Emergency Medical Services as an advanced EMT.
“I’m excited to go up to Washington, D.C. and represent Georgia and have the opportunity to serve our country and serve our people,” Young said.
Back in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has said he extended an order to deploy the National Guard locally if necessary to protect the state Capitol.
After the insurrection and deaths last week, a flyer went out calling for people to march on state capitols this weekend. Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston checked with Atlanta police about the threat, and they said they are taking it very seriously.
“The City of Atlanta Police Department continues to coordinate with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to respond should protests or illegal activity occur. If activity begins to occur, APD is prepared to respond quickly,” police said in a statement.
Channel 2′s Audrey Washington was at the Capitol Saturday night, where barricades have been erected and other security measures have been put into place.
Georgia has been a lightning rod for months now after a contentious election cycle that saw Georgia flip blue and a crucial Senate race where Democrats also prevailed.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, state police and capitol police all ay they are ready to respond to any security threats, though they would not release specific details of their plans.
“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
At least one Georgia-based militia told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution it will protest at the state Capitol Sunday morning.
One website promoting the national, 50-state effort insists the protests will be peaceful but urges people to come armed.
“This is the time to shatter the fear narrative spread by the main stream (sic) media and unite against those who wish to take our rights away,” one post said. “If you can carry legally, you should carry. If you wish to be unarmed, come unarmed.”
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]