In the days following the violent Trump-inspired insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, the FBI warned all 50 states that similar “armed protests” were being planned by right-wing extremists around their capitol buildings. But on Inauguration Day, at least, those protests turned out to be complete duds.
Not only have there been no incidents of violence at state capitols on Wednesday as of 4 pm ET, but at many of them, the number of MAGA protesters could be counted on one hand.
At the New York Capitol in Albany, Spectrum News reporter Morgan Mckay documented the presence of a single pro-Trump demonstrator.
“He says he expected a few thousand ppl here and is disappointed,” Mckay tweeted. (Thanks to Elie Mystal of the Nation for his helpful Twitter thread putting the tweets that follow in one place.)
Mark Leggiero is the one lone Trump supporter out in front of the NYS Capitol. He says he expected a few thousand ppl here and is disappointed. He said he drove 45 minutes for a peaceful protest pic.twitter.com/hDtCLYFpLq— Morgan Mckay (@morganfmckay) January 20, 2021
A similar scene unfolded at the California Capitol in Sacramento, where one man in a Trump cap protested as President Joe Biden was sworn in, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (Later in the day, more sizable protests took place around the California Capitol, but they were left-wing protests calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and for immigration reform.)
At the State Capitol in Sacramento, a lone Trump supporter wearing a red MAGA hat protested as President Biden took the oath of office Wednesday.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) January 20, 2021
Live #InaugurationDay updates >> https://t.co/WowWEMPI7l pic.twitter.com/QaSrlvomgd
There were three times as many pro-Trump protesters at the capitol in New Hampshire — but that still only amounted to three of them. And one-third of the group took off early, telling reporters “he was leaving to go skiing,” according to Dan Tuohy of New Hampshire Public Radio.
All quiet at the State House — two protestors out front. A third person was here, but he told press he was leaving to go skiing. #nhprinauguration #nhpolitics #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/kxyfJmbg92— Dan Tuohy (@tuohy) January 20, 2021
A dozen or so protesters, some of them armed, did show up at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix, but Ryan Mac of BuzzFeed reported that it remained peaceful.
The Trump supporters are now having a picnic. One guy is milling about reading 1984. Some have put up Confederate flags here in Arizona, the 48th state admitted to the Union. pic.twitter.com/8HODm1rzLy— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) January 20, 2021
And a pro-Trump demonstration some 700 miles north of there at the Nevada Capitol in Carson City was similarly underwhelming, according to Colton Lochhead of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The scene just outside Nevada’s capitol complex in Carson City ~ half hour until the Biden’s inauguration kicks off. So far, just two older guys - Brandon and Matt - with signs\flags who are frustrated that more people have not showed up. pic.twitter.com/rq2P0opYcs— Colton Lochhead (@ColtonLochhead) January 20, 2021
You get the drift. Local reporters also documented how protests of Biden’s inauguration fizzled in Kansas:
Two protestors on the southeast corner of the Kansas Statehouse. One told me he was disappointed so few people showed up. #kakenews #ksleg pic.twitter.com/F2LTpozCOZ— Pilar Pedraza TV (@PilarPedrazaTV) January 20, 2021
Found a third protestor outside the NC General Assembly in Raleigh. It’s a sleepy scene overall (aside from the considerable law enforcement presence)— Brian Gordon (@BrianSamuel92) January 20, 2021
As his sign suggests, Gary Morgan of Greensboro doubts the 2020 election results. #ncpol pic.twitter.com/OVUS02ICDY
For those wondering: Calm at the MN Capitol. pic.twitter.com/XnoqLLHo3a— Dave Orrick (@DaveOrrick) January 20, 2021
The demonstrations in Jefferson City are modest, at best. A handful of Trump supporters, two guys with upside down flags on the Capitol steps, a few people with a non-partisan group calling for healing. pic.twitter.com/SydjDcDi48— Jonathan Ahl (@JonathanAhl) January 20, 2021
Only a few people outside the Texas Capitol Building in Austin. Thomas Jones (Hawaiian shirt) said he and friends drove from Crockett to protest the Inauguration.— Kaley Johnson☀️ (@KaleyAJohnson) January 20, 2021
He expected more people to be here, but was banned from Facebook so didn’t know if anything was planned. pic.twitter.com/HuLbUbNnT3
There’s only been one protester outside Capitol in Frankfort today. His sign alludes to how well Hitler and Stalin got along. pic.twitter.com/9HOCIkIx5H— Joe Sonka (@joesonka) January 20, 2021
One man has an upside down U.S. flag, and on the other side a confederate flag #utpol #utleg pic.twitter.com/VxKnJio6fI— Katie McKellar (@KatieMcKellar1) January 20, 2021
Only a couple of protestors but lots of security at the Ohio Statehouse on Inauguration Day pic.twitter.com/pD0L2IdalJ— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) January 20, 2021
Protests never materialized earlier today in Salem, though there was certainly a large police and media presence. pic.twitter.com/bALn4GcKZR— Hannah Ray Lambert (@TheHannahRay) January 20, 2021
Lone man in Trump hat outside the Tennessee Capitol does not want to talk because media “can’t be trusted” pic.twitter.com/MbLFPfJQBs— Stephen Elliott (@ElliottStephenB) January 20, 2021
Trump fans were also scarce in downtown Washington, DC, which is heavily militarized following the insurrection. In fact, Tess Owen of Vice reported that Nickelback fans were better represented on streets around the US Capitol than Trump supporters.
I saw more Nickelback fans than MAGA hats today in DC pic.twitter.com/MfXQ8fo4IC— Tess Owen (@misstessowen) January 20, 2021
Of course, that Biden’s inauguration went off without a hitch in DC and at state capitols across the country doesn’t mean the threat posed by armed right-wing extremists has passed. But it does highlight how Trump’s months-long campaign to overthrow the election results descended from tragedy to farce in the weeks following the January 6 riot. It also hints at one way the bans from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms of Trump and right-wing conspiracists and instigators in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, which was largely organized online, are working.
For his part, Trump not only didn’t attend Biden’s inauguration, but he managed to leave DC without ever properly acknowledging the legitimacy of his loss or officially conceding. He took off for Florida on Wednesday morning following a final speech as president at Joint Base Andrews in which he told a modest crowd of his supporters “we will be back in some form ... have a good life.”
Coming as it did exactly two weeks after he delivered a fiery speech that culminated in five people dying during a riot at the US Capitol in a failed bid to overthrow the election outcome, Trump’s resigned tone was notable. And, at least for one day, his followers took the hint.