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Lawmaker expects National Guard to help with security in Honolulu ahead of Biden inauguration

William Cole
                                Security cameras were installed at the Hawaii State Capitol Tuesday.
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Security cameras were installed at the Hawaii State Capitol Tuesday.

State House Speaker Scott Saiki expects the Hawaii National Guard to be called up — and says they should be armed — to help law enforcement deter any violent Donald Trump protesters in Honolulu leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.

“We’re taking this threat very seriously. We have begun preparing for the situation,” Saiki said Tuesday.

Other states also have started to beef up security ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Biden, which President Trump said he would not attend. Wisconsin announced Monday that it was mobilizing a Wisconsin National Guard Reaction Force “to support safety and security efforts at the state capitol in Madison.”

Saiki said Hawaii officials are part of a law enforcement coalition that is made up of county, state and federal law enforcement members, and the group “is currently assessing the situation” in Hawaii.

The Democrat noted that in the past, whenever there’s been a call-out for protests, or protests at the state Capitol, “we would usually see maybe 50 people, 50 protesters.”

But leading up to the inauguration of Biden is a whole different ballgame, he said.

“This is a specific call-out by the president,” Saiki said, noting that Trump has made this type of request for supporters over time with his “actions and words.”

Trump is accused of whipping up a crowd of thousands of supporters at a “Save America March” last week. The violent mob then assaulted and ransacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of Biden as president. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer, who was beaten.

Trump had promised the event would be “wild” and told the crowd that “we will not take it anymore.”

“You will have an illegitimate president, that’s what you’ll have. And we can’t let that happen,” he said of Biden.

The House is expected to vote today on an impeachment effort charging Trump with inciting violence against the country.

An internal FBI bulletin warned of “armed protests” being planned at all 50 state capitols leading up to the inauguration, CNN reported.

Trump said Tuesday ahead of a trip to Texas that “we want no violence, never violence.” But he also told reporters that his remarks to supporters last week were “totally appropriate.”

Hawaii National Guard spokesman Jeff Hickman said, “If we are asked or needed, the Hawaii National Guard is trained and ready to support at our state Capitol. For security reasons, I cannot provide any other information.”

The Hawaii National Guard was asked by the National Guard Bureau to support the Washington, D.C., region, as was every state’s National Guard, Hickman said, adding that he could not provide any details on the status of that request, either, because of operational security concerns.

Saiki said Trump should be impeached. “The president over the years has incited an insurrection against the United States government,” he said.

The Hawaii lawmaker also condemned the actions of Nick Ochs, founder of Proud Boys Hawaii, who is accused of taking part in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol. Ochs was released from federal custody Monday.

“The Republican Party should disavow him, the Proud Boys and Donald Trump,” Saiki said.

Republican state Rep. Val Okimoto, who represents Mililani town and Mililani Mauka, said she “watched in shock and was horrified by what I witnessed at the nation’s Capitol last week. I do not agree with or condone any form of violence.”

She said she hopes that “the people of Hawaii will live by a different standard and continue the aloha spirit that we are known for. We can respectfully agree to disagree.”

“That being said, we should be prepared for anything and make the safety of our people top priority,” Okimoto said.

Extreme groups and their members — and especially those who resort to violence and racist rhetoric — have no place in Hawaii, she said.

U.S. Attorney for Hawaii Kenji Price said Tuesday in a statement that “as authorities address questions about the assault on democracy that occurred last week and hold certain individuals accountable for their egregious behavior, we must also do the preparations necessary to ensure the safety of our communities during the presidential inauguration.”

He said the people of Hawaii “should rest assured that the federal law enforcement community will use its resources to prevent harm to our government infrastructure, elected officials, and, most importantly, the people in our communities.”

Price said his office “will work hand in glove with the FBI, and any other appropriate law enforcement entity, to ensure that we investigate and bring appropriate charges against anyone who violates federal law in connection with the presidential inauguration.

“Those who choose to jeopardize the peaceful transition of power, or otherwise unlawfully wreak havoc in our communities, should know that my office will do our part to ensure that they are unsuccessful and that we create a path for them to spend time in federal prison.”

Price called on anyone with information about any individuals planning to violate the law to call 911 or contact FBI Honolulu at 566-4300 or tips.fbi.gov.

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