Outside the Texas Capitol, some demonstrators took turns speaking with a microphone. One, who said he was a founder of a local militia group, spoke against business shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic and praised “patriots that stand up for our constitutional rights.”
At least one person on the grounds had a rifle, which is legal under Texas law.
Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, standing outside the Capitol, said he hopes people on both sides of the ideological aisle remain calm.
“Yesterday I put out a piece on the RPT (Republican Party of Texas) website, my chairman’s Monday message,” West said. “It said cool hands always prevail, because I’ve been in combat, and you have to temper emotions, you have to stay focused, you have to stay resolute. And people are looking for that that calm, still voice, that leadership voice, and that’s what I want to try to be.”
West said he thinks the demonstrators in Austin would “lead the way” and set an example for protests.
Austin police told CNN that they “have reports of planned assemblies, and … are working with our law enforcement partners at DPS to ensure people are able to peacefully assemble and voice opinions and we are able to keep people safe during that process.”
The Texas DPS was requiring rapid Covid-19 tests of anyone who wanted to enter the building.
Two arrested on Capitol grounds in Washington state
Police in Washington state said they made two arrests on the Capitol grounds in Olympia on Monday, the first day of the legislative session.
State police late arrested a man who “attempted to enter the restricted area.” He was held on suspicion of failure to comply with a lawful order, police said.
The police were at the Capitol in response to promises of unpermitted protests from groups on both the left and right of the political spectrum. No groups were present in significant numbers by Monday afternoon, according to a CNN team there.
CNN’s Omar Jimenez reported in Austin and Jason Hanna wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Brad Parks, Konstantin Toropin and Dan Simon contributed to this report.