As dignitaries filed into their seats for President Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., roughly a dozen people affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement in Connecticut marched to the front of the state Capitol in Hartford.
When they arrived, they expected armed Trump supporters.
“We’re not going to be held back at home staying safe because of idle threats of armed Trumpers being here,” said Al Mayo, a Gales Ferry resident, over a megaphone.
He spoke over the hum of military vehicles stationed outside the state Supreme Court across the street. No Trump supporters met them in Hartford, but National Guard troops were standing nearby, weapons in hand.
Security was boosted at state capitol buildings across the country after the Jan. 6 riots in Washington, D.C. Even though the security was prompted by violent far-right extremists, it was also a concern for these Black Lives Matter activists.
“Honestly, it’s a bit scary. For me, it’s really concerning because I know after 9/11, a lot of security was beefed up. But that also resulted in a lot of surveillance and a lot of rights violated,” said Alicia Strong, a Yale student from New Britain. The silver lining, she said, was that the show of force may have kept Trump supporters from showing up.
Strong said the Black Lives Matter movement will continue to hold the Biden administration accountable over the next four years and especially over the next 100 days as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We don’t think that corporations should be getting all the tax breaks,” she said. “We really think that people should be the priority for the Biden administration -- things like canceling student loan debt, canceling rent and mortgage, things that will help us survive this pandemic and really get through it are what’s important to us today.”
Those in attendance said they were not affiliated with an official group but were activists from throughout the state who previously connected after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota last year.