Gov. Kevin Stitt activated the Oklahoma National Guard on Friday to help local law enforcement at the state Capitol.
Stitt said the activation of more than 75 members of the guard is out of an abundance of caution should any protests at the state Capitol, or other locations, turn violent.
"I support the right for Oklahomans to peacefully demonstrate, but we will not tolerate violence or damage to property," Stitt said in a news release. "At the request of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the National Guard has been authorized to provide support as needed. These hardworking Oklahomans are our friends and neighbors who step up in times of need. Any violence and damage to property goes against the Oklahoma Standard and is a distraction designed to keep us from uniting together."
The guardsmen will be activated from Saturday, Jan. 16, to Thursday, Jan. 21.
State officials said no specific or credible threats have been identified in Oklahoma, but increased safety measures are being taken in a proactive response to intelligence shared by the FBI regarding statehouse buildings across the country.
"The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Oklahoma National Guard have trained together to be prepared for the type of events that may be happening over the next week," DPS Commissioner John Scully said in a news release. "Cooperation with our partners is essential and we appreciate the collaboration within the law enforcement and military community. Our goal is to protect peaceful demonstrators while also protecting lives and preventing the destruction of property."
“You will see more police presence. You’ll see troopers. There won’t be any fencing there won’t be anything like that. We will protect that Capitol we will protect the people in that Capitol we will protect the people outside that Capitol,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Brian Orr said.
There is a planned armed march in place on Sunday at the state Capitol.
“It is quite unique that in the last year or so that we've been responding to large riots. Again, I want stress the difference between peaceful protests and riots,” Oklahoma National Guard Brigadier General Thomas Mancino said.
Orr said the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is the lead agency regarding concerns at the state Capitol. OHP is continuing to monitor, but they have not received any threats.
Orr said coming to protest peacefully at the Capitol is fine but their troopers, along with other law enforcement agencies, will be in full force if anything by gets out of hand.
Right now, there aren’t any reservations for any protests this weekend.
The capitol complex will be open, but Captain Orr said to expect extra law enforcement on site at the Capitol at least until February.