As Phil Murphy was holding his COVID briefing today, reports reverberated throughout the land about FBI warnings of armed protests by right-wing groups beginning Sunday in all 50 states.
“We’re very much aware,” the governor said of whatever is planned for Sunday.
Protests at state capitols are common, but in the wake of last week’s “insurrection” in Washington, there’s probably nothing common about police preparation.
Typically, neither Murphy, nor Pat Callahan, the head of the State Police, or Jared Maples, the state’s Homeland Security director, gave details of their plans.
Murphy did say that the state would be prepared to protect not only the capitol, but also government buildings all over New Jersey.
There was an interesting subplot if you will to the original warning of “armed protests” in every state.
New Jersey, as we know, has strict gun laws. Unlike many other states, one can not legally stroll around the Garden State with a semi-automatic weapon, or even a handgun, given the fact right-to-carry permits are pretty hard to get. That would likely make an “armed protest” illegal from the get-go. Just another thing to keep in mind.
There have been many Donald Trump-related rallies and protests in the state, some even post-election Just about all have been peaceful. However, things did get unruly the Sunday before Election Day when Trump supporters in a caravan stopped their cars and blocked traffic on the Garden State Parkway. What that was designed to accomplish is anyone’s guess.
Still, time moves along and the reality of Trump’s defeat may be finally setting in. Seeing how the president’s most strident followers morphed into a deranged mob last week, concern about upcoming protests is legitimate.
Murphy said today one thing that could help is for the “enablers” of Trump to stand up and do the “right thing.” By that, the governor means to condemn violence and separate from Trump. He avoided naming anyone from New Jersey, but specifically mentioned U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley.
What should New Jersey Democrats and left-leaning groups do on Sunday?
The governor was asked if they should counter protest.
No, the governor said. Murphy said opponents of Trump should not get in the mix.
“Stay home,” he advised.