Gov. Tate Reeves denounced last week’s violence at the U.S. Capitol and said Mississippi’s statehouse stands ready to defend itself from similar violence amid an FBI warning of demonstrations across the nation coinciding with Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration next week.
“I believe that the events that transpired at the Capitol last week were disastrous,” Reeves said in a Tuesday afternoon press briefing. “I don’t think anyone can look at those events and say anything otherwise. It was a sad day in our nation’s history.”
The governor said he believes any demonstration that materializes around Biden’s inauguration could be similar to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that took place in the state over the summer, noting they were peaceful in Mississippi, unlike other places.
Reeves said Tuesday, just as he did over the summer, that he believes in the right to protest, but authorities will intervene if things get out of control.
“In my stance, in my position, with respect to the potential for protests coming up, is the same today as it was back during the summer when we had massive large protests throughout the state, and it goes like this: I strongly support everyone’s right to peacefully protest, but I want everyone to understand that in Mississippi we are prepared and we will be prepared,” he said. “We had very large protests, they were by and large peaceful. We didn’t see what happened in a lot of other cities and I believe the same thing will happen over the next few weeks, but we will be prepared.”
Reeves said he has met with Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindall and Mississippi National Guard Adjutant General Janson Boyles to discuss security at the state Capitol in regards to the FBI bulletin.
“I’m not going to go into any details that we are taking or we have taken,” he said.
Reeves, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, who was impeached Wednesday over the insurrection in Washington, said the political division in the nation has reached a fever pitch, and he pleaded for cooler tempers.
“There is no doubt that in this country we are as divided today as we have been in the past 150 years,” Reeves said.
He urged people on both sides of the political spectrum — including himself — to reflect on how their views and actions played a role in continuing the division.
“What I chose to do was to self-reflect and say what have all of us done and what have any of us done to raise the political rhetoric to which this transpired?” he said. “Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t, but the reality is we literally have to recognize that is the way in which our system works.”
Reeves said he’d rather see Trump’s term come to an end next week as scheduled rather than have the president prematurely pushed out of office, calling impeachment efforts overseen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi more divisive than productive for the country.
“The president was elected to a four-year term. We are approximately 71⁄2 days from (it) being completed,” he said. “I personally believe the rhetoric from Speaker Pelosi and many of her Democratic allies in the House is more divisive and unnecessary, and I personally believe that we need to focus on the future, not on the past.”