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Gov. declares state of emergency ahead of inauguration

(Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

As federal investigators warn of potential violence across all 50 state capitols ahead of the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden next week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has declared a state of emergency.

The executive order declaring an emergency due to the threat of riots and insurrection directs the head of the New Mexico National Guard to provide military support as needed. It also directs the state’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to grant aid and request assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

However, the governor’s spokeswoman said it is a pro forma constitutional requirement needed to ready the state’s national guard and should not be taken as an affirmative statement of an emergency or a prediction of what will happen next week. New Mexico National Guard soldiers and airmen are also being sent to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration.

“The order is intended to ensure the state has the flexibility to respond to any potential escalation or emergency next week or beyond,” spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett wrote in an email. “In short, New Mexico will not make the mistake of under-preparing.”

The executive order, issued Wednesday, references last week’s events when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the nation’s Capitol building, threatening lawmakers and breaking into their offices. Police shot and killed a woman, an officer was mortally wounded and three other people died of medical causes during the melee.

The governor’s order states “there is credible intelligence that threats of similar riots exist and are likely at the capitol buildings and other prominent government buildings in all 50 states either before or on January 20, 2021.”

Lujan Grisham addressed the situation during a news conference and said the FBI has intelligence that is so secure it is not being shared with governors.

“They are certainly alerting us that being prepared is prudent,” she said. “That there are calls to action to domestic terrorism groups all across the country and those groups might try to travel into your state, some members of your state might be part of those groups and I take that incredibly seriously.”

The state of emergency goes into effect on Saturday, Jan. 16, and will last “through the day the Governor’s Authorized Representative determines to be the end of the emergency period.”

Officials have already erected fencing on the east side of the Roundhouse and plan to add more. They also intend to increase security during the upcoming 60-day session, which starts Tuesday.

In an online news conference, House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said he welcomes the governor’s steps to keep people who work at the Capitol safe. He said threats are being taken seriously.

“We have seen very real and credible threats of further violence in New Mexico and at other state capitols,” Egolf said.

Journal staff writers Dan McKay and Dan Boyd contributed to this report.


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