New Mexico declares security emergency ahead of inauguration

New Mexico

Fencing blocks the entrance to an New Mexico State capitol building on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The barriers were erected following the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C., after safety concerns for the upcoming legislative session. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Fencing has been erected outside the New Mexico Statehouse and other government buildings as officials prepare for political unrest ahead of the upcoming legislative session and next week’s presidential inauguration.

The fencing went up Wednesday on two sides of the Roundhouse and around adjacent government offices. The work continued Thursday.

Normally buzzing with lobbyists and members of the public, the Roundhouse has been closed since the start of the pandemic to stem the spread of the virus. While most legislative business has been moved to public video conferences, law enforcement has been making plans to bolster security.

State police that oversee the Capitol have taken the unusual step of coordinating security with local law enforcement agencies to provide a coordinated response should any gatherings become violent.

State Police Lt. Mark Soriano told The Associated Press that security plans anticipate potential large-scale demonstrations in coming days.

“Given the current climate in our country, we will not rule out such events taking place during the upcoming legislative session, or on Inauguration Day, or in the days and weeks surrounding either event, for that matter,” he said in an email.

Meanwhile, members of the New Mexico National Guard are deploying to Washington, D.C., for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week. They’ll be joining thousands of troops from other states to provide security, communications, medical evacuation and other support.

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