As hundreds of people stood in line inside the Capitol on Friday to take a COVID-19 test required to enter the building for the 2021 legislative session, officials began marshaling another kind of preventive measure for a far different problem.

Across the street from the Roundhouse, already encircled with chain-link fencing, a trio of massive state Transportation Department trucks carrying Jersey barriers — long, 2,000-pound concrete blocks used for highway construction projects — waited for directions on where to unload.

A fourth truck carrying sandbags and barricade boards was parked nearby.

The imposing materials are among the shields state officials are amassing to prepare against possible violence, after the FBI warned of plans for armed protests at all of the nation’s state capitols leading up to Wednesday’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

And those two contrasting pictures — one inside the Capitol, one outside — are snapshots of the challenges Roundhouse officials will face as the legislative session nears its Tuesday opening.

Raúl Burciaga, director of the Legislative Council Service, said the Capitol complex will be closed Sunday.

“Nobody will be allowed in, and that’s because of planned protests at all state capitols on Sunday,” he said.

The possibility the complex will be completely closed off again on Inauguration Day is still under consideration, Burciaga said.

“No decision has been made yet,” he said.

On Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order declaring an emergency “due to the ongoing and pervasive threat of riots and insurrection” — a move designed to ensure soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard are ready to jump into action. Members of the state guard also will be in Washington, D.C., joining a force to protect the area during the inauguration.

On Friday, the city of Santa Fe announced that Mayor Alan Webber signed an emergency proclamation that calls for city leaders to coordinate with the state’s emergency response efforts, including road closures and police and fire response.

Other federal agencies also are preparing for possible outbreaks of violence as President Donald Trump’s supporters, among other activists, threaten to stage violent protests into the coming week.

The U.S. Postal Service temporarily removed three collection boxes in the surrounding area and also announced it is closing the post office on South Federal Place early Saturday as a result of what it called “potential upcoming civil events.”

In New Mexico, the Albuquerque FBI Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are working with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to prepare for any potential violence.

“Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those individuals who may want to incite violence and engage in criminal activity,” FBI Special Agent in Charge James Langenberg, said in the news release.

As the activity played out around the Capitol building Friday, Ernest Castro of San Angelo, Texas, sadly shook his head.

“Instead of looking out for terrorists from other countries,” he said, “we’re looking for terrorists from our own country.”

Castro said the divisiveness that has plagued the country since the election also is evident in Texas.

“Even though the election is over, you still see ‘Trump 2020’ flags up everywhere,” he said. “I understand they wanted Trump to win. Others wanted Biden. But it’s already over.”

His friend, David Casarez, a U.S. Army veteran, said Americans used to protest peacefully with signs. But those days are gone, he said.

“It wasn’t the … vandalizing and destruction of private property,” he said. “Now we’re having to barricade things.”

Casarez called it a “failure of society.”

“We lost our identity,” he said. “This is not America.”

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(23) comments

George Welland

"Concrete barriers going up around New Mexico Capitol," Well, the SFNM finally got a headline right... unless you're a lobbyist, as the barriers have always been there.

Jeff Clark

A huge part of the problem is open carry laws. Mobs of delusional morons with AR 15s is dangerous.

Khal Spencer

Close to 75 million people voted for DJT a second time around. There were not 75 million people storming the Capitol. It is about time to stop demonizing the other side.

Certainly there are those who voted for Mr. Trump because they are part of that cult of personality. But there are many who simply disagree with big government, or as Thoreau put it, "I heartily accept the motto, — “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe, — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient."

Thoreau, to my knowledge, never wore a MAGA hat.

Not everyone who wants universally accessible health care wants the government running it. Likewise, although there may be some agreement, many don't like the way the Green New Deal wraps a huge set of social programs run out of Washington into environmental protection. It wasn't until the Dems nominated Joe Biden that there was at least some assurance that the Democrats were not going to go crazy-left and even now, some are pressing for the new administration to go crazy left. Joe got a boatload of votes, and undoubtedly some came from those in the GOP who were fed up with President Trump.

So its about time we got back to debating ideas instead of attacking each other as if politics is war by other means, or obsessing on personalities.

Russell Scanlon

Every choice and every vote we make has a consequence. Our political system is an immense, lumbering, dinosaur but it’s all we have.

For over 30 years or more we have listened to FOX news et al. blame every single problem in the world on “liberals” . Unfortunately millions of people took the bait. And just as unfortunately, a huge percentage of those people vote Republican.

Most of the people who occupy the ideological zone I live in would have been considered moderates 20 years ago but are now labeled “Radical Socialist”

So no, I don’t feel bad about “demonizing” the GOP. They are culpable. They are co-conspirators. They are enablers. There needs to be a serious reckoning and realignment in that party. It’s not my problem. The majority have spoken and they want change. They want to move on.

rodney carswell

Russell Scanlon [thumbup]

Mike Johnson

And remember the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King on his birthday and our national holiday Khal: "A riot is the language of the unheard"....does that only apply to the left wing, BLM types?

Russell Scanlon

Martin Luther King was a shining example of using non-violent protest to achieve justice. Even in the worst days of the late 60’s rioting he renounced violence and for this he was ridiculed by the more militant Black activists of that time. That is common knowledge. To attempt to manipulate his words in order to make to some kind of equivalence with the mob hooliganism on Jan 6th is completely ridiculous and shows a lack of knowledge of history.

And WHAT exactly was the “injustice” suffered by the MAGA mob at the nation’s capitol? The “injustice” of being unable to accept reality. Unless you can find some noble intention in the slogan “Hang Mike Pence”.

Russell Scanlon

Please define “crazy left”. Health insurance for every citizen? Policies for curbing global warming? Family leave? Social Security? Medicare? Universal minimum wage?

Honestly I’m a little skeptical of you guys that are always yammering about small government, because unfortunately (and I’m NOT saying this is true is your case) it’s a cover for saying “I don’t want MY money going to THOSE people.” And anyone who “hates” the government that much is still free to venture into the wilderness and shoot wild game for their dinner. Think Ted Kacynski.

Al Chavez

It's soul-searching time for Trump voters. Most unfortunately appear to be living in an alternate universe concocted by conspiracy theorists.

They want to save democracy by overthrowing democracy. To support law enforcement by attacking it. Wh-h-a-a-a-at?

Russell Scanlon

Donald Trump has never represented anyone but himself and his grifter family. He complained that the mob that pillaged the Capitol last week looked “low class”. Yet he is still an inspiration to hooligans everywhere. ????

Khal Spencer

It is properly spelled as "represent".

This is an embarrassment to those of us who still consider ourselves Americans. That we have to barricade our government center from a bunch of unglued people with real guns and Halloween outfits. I hope the sight of this unites the vast majority of people who still believe we have a peaceful way to resolve our differences via representative government rather than flashing the biggest stick.

Donato Velasco

politicians are finally being scared of what citizens can do when they do not reprisent them..

John Cook

Those would be the citizens who don't accept majority rule.

Stefanie Beninato


Angel Ortiz

I disagree. This what happens when a group of people cannot accept the results of an election and believe that they can protest, carry weapons and destroy our government buildings. Trump is done. Our country and state will be represented with honor moving forward.

Angel Ortiz

Other nations are laughing at us because of events that occurred in Washington DC. We look like a 3rd world country and this was at the direction of Donald. It's ok to be afraid of the truth Donato but it takes a real man to admit it.

Khal Spencer

I just got a city email saying a good part of downtown will be cordoned off.

John Cook

Thanks, Khal, for the link. Reading that email, it appears they are closing off the entire government complex of the Bataan building, the Supreme Court, etc. That's smart. I hope it is unnecessary but it's smart even if not needed.

Khal Spencer

Sigh. Its taking all precautions, indeed.

Between the Covid and the crazies, I feel like I should be living in a cave and pull the entrance closed. Let's all hope for the best and as you say, that this is unnecessary.

Mike Johnson

Unfortunately Khal, this is a result of the last many years of the public being obsessed with politics and the hatred fanned by partisans of all sides to consider those who disagree with you on policy as mortal enemies. A sad situation and politicians and the press are to blame for all this.

Russell Scanlon

Once again: What should be a day of national celebration and reconciliation, the greatest symbolic moment of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power of the executive branch, has become a moment of fear and violence worthy of the “banana republics” we used to ridicule.

Thank you Donald Trump.

Thank you Trump voters.

Thank you Republican Party.

We will never forget how you betrayed this nation and it’s citizens.

Tracy Tregeagle

It's embarrassing that we need to protect ourselves and our government property from US citizens.

Let's all be the change we want to see in our nation....

Jim Clark

Good job Governor!

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