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March 3, 2021

California capital quiet for inauguration

SACRAMENTO—As Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States Wednesday morning, a heavy police and military presence in Sacramento was met with a meager number of protesters and eerily quiet streets.

Armored police vehicles patrolled the capital, along with teams of police officers on bicycles. Groups of law enforcement officials armed with rifles wearing body armor greeted passersby as they guarded the government building.

Also on hand were legions of media from print, radio and television, all of whom traveled to the area—and to state capitals across the U.S.—to cover protests promised by far-right activists espousing debunked theories of election fraud.

But those promised protests largely did not materialize, neither in Sacramento nor in most other capitals.

Instead, only small groups were visible near the Capitol Building in Sacramento, one of whom was a man holding a sign that said, “cops kill.”

“Maybe I’ll be the only protester here today,” said a man named Joe wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and carrying an air horn mounted on a monopod.

Joe was largely dismissive about the actions on Jan. 6 of the rioters that broke into the U.S. Capitol Building, vandalizing property, looting and threatening lawmakers.

“There were definitely a bunch of troublemakers at the capital that day,” he said. “The guy that picked up the podium, that was no big deal. As far as the shooting, the police overreacted. I understand people being pissed off enough to break into the Capitol.”

By noon a noisy crowd of around 90, mostly dressed in black and waving placards and banners, began marching the streets surrounding the Capitol in Sacramento. As large numbers of police raced ahead of them to block traffic and a group of two dozen police on bicycles followed, the crowd chanted “No Prisons” and “No Cops.” 

In Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, however, some violence did break out as people protested Biden’s election but various news accounts state the incidents were minor.

Reporter Todd Guild contributed to this report.

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