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'No specific threat' to Pa. Capitol this weekend

A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Joseph Darius Jaafari
January 15, 2021
Harrisburg preparations, Capitol arrests, record sales, jail lockdowns, Mrs. Rogers, snow geese, and a pickup story. It's finally Friday.
On Monday, the FBI warned of possible armed protests in state capitals around the country. But how much do we actually know about what may occur in Harrisburg this weekend?

Not that much, it turns out.

Figuring out exactly if or where there are potential threats has been a problem for law enforcement and journalists, as the usual channels for organizing — such as Facebook, Parler, and Gab — have either been shut downremoved, or overwhelmed to the point of being unusable.

But here's what we do know: Law enforcement officials said they are prepared for whatever may come, though "there are no specific threats to the Capitol or the Capitol Complex," Spotlight PA reports.

THE CONTEXT: Tensions are particularly high right now in Pennsylvania, given the state's spotlight in the 2020 election.

People who swarmed Washington last week echoed lies from President Donald Trump and some lawmakers (including Republicans from the state) that Pennsylvania's election was fraudulent or stolen.

In recent months, the state Capitol in Harrisburg has been the site of ReOpen PA gatherings criticizing the governor’s coronavirus mitigation efforts and Stop the Steal events, where lawmakers and pro-Trump protesters echoed baseless claims of election fraud.

Many of those rallies have included armed protestors and militia groups, such as The Three Percenters, whose members were seen storming the U.S. Capitol last week. While there have been tense moments, the events in Pennsylvania have not become violent.
"Yes, I opened during a pandemic and yes, I opened on a Friday the 13th."
— Eliza Jane Bowman, owner of Prohibition Pastries, on opening her third pastry shop that specializes in barleywine pretzels
POST IT: A view of the morning sky in southwestern Derry Township. Thanks for another photo, Robert NSend us your hidden gems use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
WHERE'S SCAVO? Frank Scavo, a Republican in Northeast Pennsylvania who ran for state House, said he wasn't at the Capitol last week when it was under siege. But photos published by Getty Images appear to show otherwise, the Times Leader reports. Two years ago, Scavo had to apologize for posting xenophobic and racist remarks on Facebook.  

CAPITOL ARRESTS: The U.S. Department of Justice has published a running tally of charges against people allegedly involved in storming the U.S. Capitol. Two people named are from Pennsylvania, including a retired firefighter who is charged with throwing a fire extinguisher that hit Capitol Police, the Associated Press reports.
RECORD SALES: Pennsylvania State Police processed more than 420,000 firearm background checks between Oct. 1 and the end of last year, a new record. One first-time gun owner told WPVI she made the purchase "because of the climate, the state of affairs today."

LOCKDOWNS: Since the start of the pandemic, lockdowns have been common at state and local correctional facilities. Officials say they're necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19, but prison rights groups argue they put a deadly strain on mental health. Now, a federal judge has ruled there must be more balance in Philadelphia's jails, The Inquirer reports.
MCSWAIN DEPARTS: Federal prosecutor William McSwain is resigning his post in eastern Pennsylvania, The Morning Call reports. During his tenure, he clashed with Philadelphia officials, including District Attorney Larry Krasner, and obtained a lengthy prison sentence for former Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
BEAUTIFUL LIFE: Joanne Rogers, an accomplished musician, advocate for the arts, and the widow of Fred Rogers, died Thursday at age 92. "She continued their shared commitment to supporting children and families after his death," Fred Rogers Productions said in a statement.

AN AMERICAN FORCE: Barbara Weisberger, creator of the Pennsylvania Ballet and protégé of the famed George Balanchine, died last month at her home in Kingston. The ballet company is one of the most well-recognized in the nation.

PRESERVING LAND: A 577-acre farm in Chester County will be used as a nature preserve, after the Brandywine Conservancy purchased it through state and local grants. Developers of the preserve say they aim to have trails and parking available by late spring.

GOOSEBUMPS: 'Tis the season for spotting flocks of snow geese as they make their way north. If they aren't in your area, you can still catch them at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area via live cam.

A PICKUP STORY: There are few things dearer to some Pennsylvanians than their trucks. So, it seems appropriate that a Uniontown man's vintage Ford would be used in an episode of "The Bachelor." 
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Nonplussed

Congrats to our daily winners: Neal W., Mary Ellen T., Jill G., Bill C., Jessica K., Steve M., Bob R., Irene R., Susan D., Joel S., George S., Kim C., Karen S., Carol D., and John C.
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