USA TODAY International Edition
FBI warns of planned unrest at statehouses
After the deadly riot at the U. S. Capitol on Wednesday, law enforcement and elected officials are bracing for the possibility of more violence across the United States.
Groups tracking right- wing extremist organizations have said preparations for more violence are underway, and the FBI was warning of possible armed protests at state capitol buildings beginning Jan. 17 and through the inauguration, an official with knowledge of a bulletin told USA TODAY.
The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly, said authorities also have been circulating a poster publicizing the events with the words “When democracy is destroyed, refuse to be silenced.” The poster for Jan. 17 calls for “armed march on Capitol Hill & all state capitols.”
At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot by police, died Wednesday after a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol while Congress was meeting to certify the election results for President- elect Joe Biden.
Democrats have called for Trump’s removal in the wake of the violence, pushing Vice President Mike Pence to trigger the 25th Amendment and introducing a new impeachment article
against the president.
While it remains unclear how many people will show up for further protests, “people don’t have the luxury to downplay it,” said Oren Segal, vice president of the ADL Center on Extremism. “People don’t have the luxury to ignore it.
“The president hasn’t backed down on the concept that this a stolen election. Narratives like that, of something being taken away from you, are so powerful.”
Capitol Police have faced sharp criticism for its response to the riots, prompting the resignation of Chief Steven Sund. He told The Washington Post that he requested the National Guard be placed on standby in the days before the riot, but House and Senate security officials turned him down. Rep. Tim Ryan, D- Ohio, on Monday said two Capitol Police officers have been suspended. One reportedly put on a Make America Great hat and started “directing some people around,” Ryan said; the other took a selfie with one of the people who had stormed into the Capitol.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked Americans not to come to Washington for Biden’s inauguration. “Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District to Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on Jan. 6,” Bowser said at a news conference.
Bowser said her administration requested the federal government declare a pre- emergency disaster declaration. In a letter to acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, the mayor also asked that the department extend the period for special security for the inauguration to include Monday through Jan. 24.
Wolf said in a statement that he instructed the Secret Service to begin the special security event period on Wednesday instead of Jan. 19, citing “events of the past week and the evolving security landscape.”
Later Monday, Wolf announced his resignation. “I am saddened to take this step, as it was my intention to serve the Department until the end of this Administration,” a statement said. “Unfortunately, this action is warranted by recent events, including the ongoing and meritless court rulings regarding the validity of my authority as Acting Secretary.” Pete Gaynor, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, will be the new acting secretary.
Bowser said she encouraged the department to coordinate with the Justice and Defense departments, Congress and the Supreme Court on a plan to protect federal property. District police would focus on areas over which they have jurisdiction in the city, she said.
Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the national Guard Bureau, said Monday that 10,000 National Guard troops would be in Washington on Jan. 20 for the inauguration. An additional 5,000 troops could be called up if needed, he said.
Bowser also said she requested that the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park Service, cancel and deny any public gathering permits through Jan. 24.
Permits under review
Nicholas Goodwin, a spokesman for the Department of the Interior, told USA TODAY that the department was in touch with the mayor’s office.
According to the National Park Service’s list of First Amendment, Special Event and inauguration permit applications it has received through the end of January, only one permit, still being processed, was explicitly pro- Trump. The applicant, “Let America Hear Us, Roar For Trump,” requested space around the White House for an expected 300 participants, arriving Jan. 18 and leaving Jan 20. Under the heading “purpose,” the group listed “Inauguration Day, to support our President. 1st Amendment Rights Gathering.”
Elsewhere, state capitals were beefing up security amid fear of violence.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee activated hundreds of National Guard troops to help state police near its Capitol. State patrol SWAT officers were at Georgia’s Capitol on Monday. Idaho locked doors to its House and Senate chambers as state troopers sat at the entrances. In Michigan, a state commission voted Monday to ban the open carrying of weapons in the Capitol building.
In its warning to local authorities, the FBI described evidence of credible threats related to events planned for Jan. 17 at the state Capitols in Michigan and Minnesota, Yahoo News reported.
Yahoo News reported it had obtained an FBI document produced by the Minneapolis field office based on information provided by “collaborative sources” a week before mobs stormed the Capitol. The document focused on rallies planned by the far- right “boogaloo movement.” The report warned that “some followers indicated willingness to commit violence in support of their ideology, created contingency plans in the event violence occurred at the events, and identified law enforcement security measures and possible countermeasures.”
“They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur,” ABC News reported the FBI bulletin as saying. Courthouses and administrative buildings also were potential targets, ABC News reported.
ADL, formerly known as the AntiDefamation League, said last Thursday that extremists’ preparations were taking place on social media forums, including Twitter and YouTube, and on fringe forums popular with extremists.
“Reminder that the U. S. Presidential Inauguration day is on January 20th. That is the next date on the calendar that the Pro- Trump and other nationalist crowds will potentially converge on the Capitol again,” a white supremacist Telegram channel posted.
“The president hasn’t backed down on the concept that this a stolen election. Narratives like that, of something being taken away from you, are so powerful.” Oren Segal ADL Center on Extremism
‘ Predictable’ terrorism
On Wimkin, another platform, a group calling itself “Million Militia March” issued this call: “IF OUR COUNTRY DIES on 1/ 20, it won’t be the only thing that dies. President Trump will die, they will hang him, if not by a rope they will end him in some way. ... THEY FOUGHT FOR US. What are WE going to DO?”
The ADL’s Segal said many plans for the Jan. 6 mob were similarly happening in plain sight. But, Segal said, many average Americans who believe the election was stolen took part, too.
“Even if we have relative quiet” in coming weeks, Segal said, “this is something that this country is going to be dealing with for a long time.”