There was quiet in downtown Annapolis with a visible police presence Sunday as officials around the country issued warnings of possible unrest aimed at state capitals in the wake of last week’s insurrection.
A dozen or more Maryland State Police vehicles could be seen circling the streets around the State House for most of the day. A few joggers and strollers were out in the chilly morning air, and the bells of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church rang out shortly before 9 a.m.
The Rev. M. Dion Thompson told St. Anne’s parishioners watching from home in a streamed sermon that this is a time of revelation and transformation.
“God is inviting us, all of us, regardless of our political beliefs to the transformation and renewal of our country and I dare say of our world,” he said. “This is a wilderness time, brothers and sisters. We have been unmoored, set adrift.”
He talked about how many are yearning for the world before the coronavirus and a parade of unprecedented events, and praying that no more is to come.
“The terrible day in our Capitol is fresh in our minds. Its impacts reverberating through every corner of our country,” Thompson said. “Once again on full display, the violence and passions that have hobbled our nation. What Jesus said in Luke’s Gospel is true, nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed.”
The church is located just a few steps from the State House, where shortly before the Sunday morning service was streamed a small group of armed law enforcement officers could be seen unloading weapons and other gear from their vehicles. They worked just across the street from the newly reopened Lawyers Mall and the statue of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, where a few people wandered snapping photos.
Annapolis business owners around the State House took a range of precautions — or opened as usual — ove the weekend in response to threats of more violence following last week’s failed insurrection by President Donald Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead.
The mob sought to overturn the election results that will see President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris ascend to the White House on Wednesday. Trump and his political supporters have lied about the election results, saying Trump won instead of Biden.
The threat of extremist groups descending on state capitals in a series of demonstrations Sunday prompted many governors to roll out a massive show of force and implement tight security measures at statehouses across the country.
But at midday, Annapolis police Cpl. Dave Stokes said all was quiet in downtown Annapolis. Maryland State Police echoed the same as Annapolis police.
That didn’t stop Annapolis Pottery owner Pat Murphy from boarding up the windows of his shop across the street from the State House.
“If we have any issues or violence we can protect the building. The city, state and county have been excellent about communicating,” Murphy said. “I feel at ease.”
At Sea Bags on Main Street, cashier Kelly Lewis said the store was steady with customers and calm most o the day. Lewis is an Annapolis resident and had confidence in the police.
“I have had a few conversations with people being nervous that all the police around,” Lewis said. “I feel safer with the added protection.”
Paige Ferguson was nervous about having to walk past the State House on the way to work.
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“I saw so many police cars I felt secure and safe,” she said. “We were worried it would be slower because of the potential of something to happen.”
County and city officials have said that while there have been reports of possible additional demonstrations in all 50 state capitals, none has been specific to Anne Arundel County.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Friday.
The Republican governor’s official proclamation states that Maryland is “endangered by the reasonable possibility of unlawful acts including destruction or damage of public or private property, and disturbance of the public peace” in the coming days due to the inauguration.
The declaration is a procedural step that allows the state to tap its emergency resources, including the Maryland National Guard, within Maryland from Saturday through Thursday.
As he looked ahead in his sermon from St. Anne’s, Thompson focused on the potential for change and called on the congregation to listen for God in making the world a better place.
“So what are we to do? What is God calling us to do? And what are we willing to do?”