(CN) — As National Guard troops and police prepared for massive protests at state capitals throughout the U.S. on Sunday by supporters of President Donald Trump, a large number of the planned demonstrations either didn’t happen or only saw relatively few participants.
At Michigan’s Capitol in Lansing, a light snow fell from an overcast sky as several surrounding roads had been closed and groups of police officers walked and rode bikes in the neighborhood.
As of noon, the only noise outside the Capitol was of idling diesel engines from sand-color Humvees and bells from a nearby church. About 50 protesters stood in front of the building.
One group that described itself as a militia was planning to be outside the capital Sunday, according to a report by The Detroit Free Press, but decided to cancel the plans at the last moment.
Michael Lackomar of the Southeast Michigan Militia told Detroit’s Fox affiliate WJBK-TV 2 that they did not want trouble but would defend themselves if they were put in danger.
Lackomar later walked back the plans, according to the Lansing City Pulse, and said he did not want to possibly be lumped in with the Proud Boys group that planned to be at the Capitol to disrupt and cause problems
Micheal Mandley lives in Lansing and was walking his tiny dog around the Capitol as a string of military vehicles pulled out from a federal building across the street.
“They have a right to free speech,” he said of people who protest the election results. “But the manner in which they use it is telling.”
About half the protestors were wearing masks as the snow continued to fall.
One man without a mask but wearing a holstered gun strapped to his leg stood on the corner of the grounds, waving a Trump 2020 flag and yelling at the helicopter that hovered above.
“Can you see me now?” he exclaimed as he furiously waved the flag back and forth. “We have certain rights!”
When asked to comment he replied “You best keep moving.”
Another man wearing a sandwich board sign with a Jewish-themed Donald Trump criticism argued with a handful of people that confronted him and seemed eager for attention.
“We are losing our democracy.” He declared.
After several minutes of back and forth he summed up his sign succinctly.
“This is freedom of speech, you don’t like it tough shit,” he said.
Richard Maurer lives in a town “about 30 miles south of Lansing.” He came to the Capitol Sunday to support the protesters.
Maurer thinks Trump is the “best president we ever had” and that “he was right” about the election being stolen.
Dressed in a beaten up Carhartt jacket and a Trump hat, the grey-bearded man conceded that Trump “doesn’t say the smartest things” but said his intentions were good for America.
Maurer claimed he was visited by FBI agents last week because he was at the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6th and posted about it on Facebook.
“I posted that I would die for my country and I would kill for my country,” he said.
About six costumed masked men briefly commanded the attention of the gathered media as they brandished their automatic firearms and posed on the front lawn.
After a few statements they moved off the Capitol grounds and stood across the street.
A surge of protesters had yet to be seen about 30 minutes into the demonstration, and one older man who would not give his name cracked “This is thin as hell!” as he walked away.
On the sidewalk in front of the Capitol sat a garbage can full of flags ready to be waved by attendees. The group of protesters who brought the flags packed up after about 45 minutes and headed away from the scene down Michigan Avenue.
Calm prevailed just after noon at the Wisconsin Capitol building in Madison, as anticipated protests from the president’s supporters largely failed to materialize.
Governor Tony Evers mobilized state National Guard troops and called for windows at the Capitol to be boarded in the days leading up to Sunday, as anxieties over protests against the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden have reached a fever pitch since Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, leaving five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
Around a dozen Capitol Police officials in Madison were stationed outside the Capitol building on Sunday, flanked by armored vehicles and additional law enforcement blocking off the adjacent roads. Though they were prepared for the possibility of a large number of protesters, none showed up.
In Ohio, more than 20 protesters demonstrated outside the Statehouse as several dozens of state troopers looked on.
In a statement on Sunday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said that police “will protect the rights of peaceful demonstrators but will also vigorously resist any violence.”
Several governors called on the National Guard to protect state capitols and issued states of emergency.
The Oregon state capitol in Salem was quiet on Sunday. Around a dozen protesters gathered, outnumbering the press. Some wore camouflage, others wore head-to-toe black, and some wore the Hawaiian shirts commonly donned by Boogaloo bois — a far right contingent dedicated to causing the collapse of American society.
All were heavily armed.
Governor Kate Brown on Thursday activated the state National Guard. But there was little indication of that on Sunday.
Instead, the few protesters who showed up gave interviews and posed for photos with the Capitol rotunda as a backdrop.
At one point, a head popped up in a window inside the Capitol, capturing the group’s attention.
One man, dressed in all black with a black balaclava obscuring his face, waved a black flag with one hand and a sign saying “All Elections are illegitimate” with the other.
“Hey, I’m talking to you!” he yelled at the person in the window.
The protests expected at state capitols largely failed to materialize ahead of Biden’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., where some 25,000 National Guard are stationed.
Although anticipating that First Amendment zones will be used later this week — designating the U.S. Navy Memorial and John Marshall Park as expressive spaces — no Trump supporters gathered throughout D.C. streets as they had on Jan. 6.
Credentialed press were only allowed to bypass one area of the National Guard barricade, to a section of road just accessible to police on 14th Street outside the White House. Beyond that, a nearly three block perimeter complete with non-scalable fencing prevented joggers and bicyclists from stepping foot on the National Mall.
Although John Marshall Park had been secured as a First Amendment zone for demonstrators to protest, by 2:30 p.m. the park was completely empty. Most gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza were journalists, met by those displaying flags that said “Black Lives Matter,” rather than Trump reelection campaign flags.