CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston's role in the worldwide Million Mask March protest Tuesday drew a strong State Police presence to the Capitol grounds, a wireless Internet service shutdown to avoid hackers -- and less than a dozen well-behaved protesters.
Planned by the loosely organized online collective Anonymous, Charleston was one of 477 protest locations worldwide, according to a webpage devoted to the march.
Ultimately, the peaceful protesters, who stood along Kanawha Boulevard at the "Lincoln Walks at Midnight" statue, were far outnumbered by Capitol police and state troopers who watched from a distance.
Additionally, two State Police K-9 units were parked in the Capitol's West Wing loading dock during the protest.
Lawrence Messina, spokesman for the Department of Military Affairs, said he did not have a precise number of troopers assigned to the Capitol on Tuesday but said the size of the force was based on a Facebook page for the Charleston event suggesting that hundreds could be participating in the protest.
"I get the impression each of the events had its own Facebook page, so you could get an idea of numbers of people who said they would attend," he said.
Also, as a precautionary measure, the Legislative Automated Services Division shut down the wireless Internet network widely used in legislative and other offices at the Capitol.
"We were just trying to be proactive from a security standpoint," said legislative manager Aaron Allred.