Gov. Jared Polis activated the Colorado National Guard and placed them on standby for any local events around Wednesday's inaugural, just in case Colorado protests occur and turn violent.
Polis said Tuesday he is getting briefed by federal and local law enforcement about potential security threats across the state after a riot at the nation's capital on January 6 where far-right extremists surrounded and entered the building, leaving five people dead.
Polis says he signed an executive order so the Colorado National Guard is prepared to protect the state capitol or other potential targets in Colorado if any protests become violent.
“Our democracy preserves the sacred right to free speech,” Polis said. But it does not enable or facilitate the perpetuation of violence or destruction.”
Polis said he has full confidence in the state patrol and other local law enforcement to ensure the protection of Coloradans. At the same time, the National Guard will be available if additional security is necessary.
Polis attended the send-off of about 200 National Guard members at Buckley Air Force Base this weekend who will be stationed in Washington, DC to secure inaugural ceremonies.
He called the inauguration a “ritual of renewal for our democracy.”
The Colorado National Guard has been regularly deployed during the pandemic to assist the state with security, COVID-19 testing, vaccine distribution and helping with construction of overflow medical facilities that could be used in case the state's hospitals ran out of capacity.
With COVID-19 cases falling and hospitalizations leveling off, the state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management announced Tuesday that one of those overflow medical spaces, at the Colorado Convention Center, would be dismantled by the end of March. That will leave the state with two remaining overflow facilities. None have ever been needed.