SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Mayor Van Johnson says there are no known threats to Savannah in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riot, but as Inauguration Day nears, that could change.
He says law enforcement is prepared for potential unrest.
Johnson said Tuesday he has faith in the citizens of Savannah and believes if any demonstrations take place, they will be peaceful. He called last week’s attack on the Capitol “surreal” and expressed concerns for elected officials who were caught in the crossfire.
“As the FBI is doing its work, I understand some individuals from Savannah and from Georgia were involved as well,” said Johnson. “As they go about their work, rounding up those folks, some of that intelligence is being shared with us.”
As a member of Savannah’s Republican Party and supporter of President Donald Trump, Ryan Purvis, says last week’s riots go against everything they stand for.
“I mean, it literally brings tears to my eyes because I know decent people that work for representatives, that work for senators that were literally scared for their lives,” said Purvis, a member of Savannah Area Young Republicans.
Purvis says those who participated aren’t Republicans or Democrats, they’re domestic terrorists.
As the FBI continues to investigate the horrific attack, cities all over the country, including Savannah, have their ears to the ground.
“I think it also highlights the need for us to make sure that again, we are monitoring, and that we are communicating, and that we are prepared,” Johnson said.
The mayor says he’s playing it extra safe, even announcing he canceled plans to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“As much as I’d like to be there, it’s probably just best for me to stay home,” said Johnson.
He says everyone has a right to protest the transition of power, but violence will not be tolerated.
“People have the right to disagree, whatever their issue is one way or another,” said Johnson, “they have the right to express that, but they don’t have the right to be destructive.”
Purvis said the Republicans he associates with do not agree with violence. He says he’s not aware of any potential threats to the city.
“I don’t care who this upsets, but at the end of the day, that’s not how I was raised that’s not how we convey our message,” said Purvis. “And that’s certainly not how you change the hearts and minds of people.”
The Chatham County Police Department has also been briefed on intelligence from state and federal authorities. They say no threats have been made to this area.