Tallahassee businesses, law enforcement prepare for possible protests

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 4:15 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - “If anything is disorderly we are going to act very quickly.”

Those words of warning came from Governor Ron DeSantis Tuesday, as law enforcement prepares against threats of armed protests in Tallahassee and state capitals nationwide.

The FBI says that those protests could happen as early as this weekend, and the threats lasting through Inauguration Day. Tallahassee Police and businesses are staying vigilant and keep their fingers crossed.

Rob Bazemore, the owner of Metro Deli, tells WCTV that he is concerned but is not taking any precautions at this point.

“Hopefully everything will be okay and we can just go on like we always do,” Bazemore said.

Bazemore has been operating the downtown favorite for more than 18 years. They have an open-door policy and do not plan on changing that.

“If anything comes up, we will have to take it as it comes, but as far as anything preemptively, I don’t foresee myself doing anything special,” expressed Bazemore.

Others, like John Henningsen, who owns Goodies Eatery, also share that feeling of cautious optimism.

Goodies, which is just a block away from Florida’s Capitol, is discussing concerns about protests and staying vigilant with their staff..

“We are always worried about it, we don’t want anything to happen to anybody, so we will have our eyes open and our ears open and we will try to pay attention to what is going on,” Henningsen said.

On Tuesday, the Capitol is fairly quiet, aside from construction and a few Capitol police. Governor Ron DeSantis pledged to keep it that way, ”I don’t care why you’re doing it you are not doing it here so if there is any type of disorder we will have reinforcements there.”

Local law enforcement say that they are ready to respond if needed.

Right now, Major David Odom with Tallahassee Police’s Patrol Operations says they are communicating with other agencies and monitoring the situation, “Is there something that is going to spark us to take some action?,” he asks, “I can’t say, right now we are looking at today until well after the 20.”

While everyone watches and waits, business as usual continues downtown.

Bazemore says, “We have kind of seen several things come and go, we would like to think that this is another one like that, and hopefully we can keep on trucking.”

Florida Division of Emergency Management Deputy Director Kevin Guthrie shared Tuesday via social media, “I can assure you that Tallahassee is prepared.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson released a statement as well, warning Capitol staff to stay home on Sunday, January 17, saying, “Out of an abundance of caution, I am requesting that staff work remotely this Sunday, rather than traveling to the Capitol Complex.”

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