Washington, DC, was locked down and US law enforcement officials geared up for pro-Trump marches in all 50 state capitals this weekend, erecting barriers and deploying thousands of National Guard troops to try to prevent the kind of violent attack that rattled the nation on January 6.
The FBI warned police agencies of possible armed protests outside all 50 state capitol buildings starting on Saturday through President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, fuelled by supporters of President Donald Trump who believes his false claims of electoral fraud.
Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Washington were among the states that activated their National Guard to strengthen security. Texas closed its Capitol through Inauguration Day.
Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said in a statement late Friday that intelligence indicated “violent extremists” may seek to exploit planned armed protests in Austin to “conduct criminal acts”. The scramble followed the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol in Washington by a mix of extremists and Trump supporters, some of whom planned to kidnap members of Congress and called for the death of Vice President Mike Pence as he presided over the certification of Biden’s victory in November’s election.
The Democratic leaders of four US congressional committees said on Saturday; they had opened a review of the events and had written to the FBI; and other intelligence and security agencies to find out what was known; about threats, whether the information was shared, and whether foreign influence played any role.
The letter said, “This still-emerging story is one of astounding bravery; by some US Capitol Police and other officers; of staggering treachery by violent criminals; and of apparent and high-level failures ~CHECK~ in particular, with respect to intelligence and security preparedness.”
It was signed by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.
Law enforcement officials have trained much of their focus on Sunday when the anti-government “boogaloo” movement flagged plans to hold rallies in all 50 states. In Michigan, a fence was erected around the Capitol in Lansing and troopers were mobilized from across the state to bolster security. The legislature cancelled the meeting next week, citing concern over credible threats.
The perception that the January 6 insurrection was a success could embolden domestic extremists motivated by anti-government, racial, and partisan grievances, spurring them to further violence, according to a government intelligence bulletin dated Wednesday that was first reported by Yahoo News.
The Joint Intelligence Bulletin, produced by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and National Counterterrorism Centre, further warned that “false narratives” about electoral fraud would serve as an ongoing catalyst for extremists groups.
Thousands of armed National Guard troops were; in the streets in Washington in an unprecedented show of force after the assault on the US Capitol. Bridges into the city were to be closed, along with dozens of roadways. The National Mall and other iconic US landmarks were blocked off into next week.
Experts say that the capitals of battleground states; such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona are among those at most risk of violence. But even states not seen as likely flashpoints are taking precautions. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said on Friday that while his state had not received any specific threats; he was beefing up security around the Capitol in Springfield, including adding about 250 state National Guard troops.