ALBANY – There was no massive protest by supporters of President Donald J. Trump outside the well-fortified State Capitol on Wednesday, objecting to the inauguration of new President Joe Biden.
In fact, there was just one man in the park near the fenced-off east step of the massive building — Mark Leggiero, from the Montgomery County town of Florida — sporting a Trump-branded long-sleeve jersey and a colorful Trump flag.
“I was coming out to hopefully join a bunch of peaceful protesters in supporting the cause, that’s is almost a lost cause now, unfortunately, I’m sad to say,” Leggiero told Gazette photographer Peter R. Barber. “Being as basically I’m the only one out here, I’d say it’s a lost cause.”
In his lonely presence, Leggiero was far outnumbered by news media representatives waiting to see if trouble would arise. It didn’t, despite the tensions ratcheted up by the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which left five people dead, including a police officer. Capitol buildings across the country, including Albany’s, were under tight security.
The state Capitol was fortified with fencing and barriers after the Jan. 6 riot of Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol. That same day, a clash between protesters and counter-protesters outside the state Capitol led to a stabbing and arrests.
Last week the FBI warned of possible inauguration-protest trouble at all 50 state capitols; state police and other law enforcement agencies said they would be prepared for large crowds and possible trouble. Albany City Hall, located across a small park from the state Capitol, was closed for the day, and city officials had warned the public to stay away from downtown.
Leggiero, who carried a colorful flag showing Trump riding on a tank, said he wasn’t interested in politics before Trump. Now, he said, Trump will “always be my president.”
“He gave me spirit, he gave me pride, he wanted me to live free,” Leggiero said.
He bemoaned the lack of other Trump supporters at the event.
“I’d say it’s sad, this man has done for us over the last four years, President Trump,” Leggiero said. “I think a lot of people could sacrifice their time and get out here, hold the flag, or even just stand there and sip coffee, you know. We got no violence, we don’t need no violence, but we need support. Strength by numbers, we don’t have the numbers right now, and that’s why we’re in the position we’re in.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said earlier this week that he wouldn’t be attending Biden’s inauguration in Washington D.C. because of the concerns about security in Albany.
“Better safe than sorry,” he said at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon in Albany.
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