State officials across the United States are bracing for potentially violent protests in support of President Donald Trump in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
Several states, including California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Florida, had activated their National Guard forces to strengthen security as early as Saturday.
Authorities in Washington, DC were also bracing for more violence after the deadly storming of the country’s legislature seat by pro-Trump rioters on Jan.6.
The security beefs come after the FBI warned police departments across the United States of possible armed protests outside the 50 state capitol buildings from Saturday until Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday .
Experts say the battlefield state capitals of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona are among the most at risk of violence.
These states were at the heart of Trump’s baseless claims of widespread electoral fraud, which he used to stir up unrest among his supporters, who stormed the U.S. Capitol building as Congress convened to certify the victory for Biden.
Sunday, the anti-government “BoogalooThe movement plans to hold rallies in all 50 states.
Texas state officials shut down the Capitol on inauguration day, Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw saying Friday evening intelligence indicated “violent extremists” may seek to exploit protests armies planned in Austin to “carry out criminal acts”.
In Michigan, a fence was erected around the Capitol in Lansing and soldiers were mobilized from across the state to bolster security. The legislature canceled meetings next week, citing concerns over credible threats.
“We are prepared for the worst, but we hope those who choose to protest at our Capitol do so peacefully,” Michigan State Police Director Joe Gasper said at a press conference Friday.
On an early morning walk to greet the soldiers and the National Guard protecting our Capitol, it is heartwarming to see the dome light signaling that democracy and justice verified truth prevail against insurgency and vile deception. pic.twitter.com/eCGvPs10hf
– Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) January 16, 2021
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said on Friday that while his state has not received any specific threats, he is stepping up security around the Capitol in Springfield, including adding about 250 National Guard troops.
The alarm also extended beyond legislatures.
The United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination of more than 4,900 churches, has warned its 800,000 members that “liberal” churches could be attacked in the coming week.
Call for inquiry
Meanwhile, thousands of National Guard troops remain in the streets of Washington, DC, in an unprecedented show of force.
Bridges in the city and dozens of roads were scheduled to be closed, while the National Mall and other iconic U.S. sites were blocked off next week.
In a joint internal newsletter earlier this week, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center warned that perceptions that the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill was a success may further embolden the national extremists.
They said the “false stories” of voter fraud would serve as a permanent catalyst for violent groups.
NEW: Intelligence, Homeland, Justice and Oversight Committees open review of January 6 insurgency and ongoing threats.
What warning signs have been missed? What have been the systemic failures? How to best fight against domestic violent extremism?
– Home Intelligence Committee (@HouseIntel) January 16, 2021
On Saturday, Democratic leaders of four committees of the US Congress announced that they had opened a review of the January 6 riot.
Lawmakers also signed an open letter asking the FBI and other intelligence and security agencies to find out what was known about the threats, if information was being shared, and if foreign influence was playing a role.
The letter was signed by Adam Schiff, Chairman of House Intelligence, Bennie Thompson, Chairman of House Homeland Security, Carolyn Maloney and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler.
“This still emerging story is one of incredible bravery on the part of the United States Capitol Police and other officers; staggering betrayal by violent criminals; and apparent and high-level failures – in particular, in intelligence and security preparedness, ”lawmakers said.