FBI warns ‘armed protests’ being planned at all 50 state capitols and in Washington DC
Washington: The FBI has warned that it has received intelligence that “armed protests” were being planned at all 50 US state capitols and in Washington DC in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, leading to fears of more deadly violence by extremists supporting outgoing President Donald Trump.
Posts on pro-Trump and far-right online networks have called for protest action on a number of dates, including armed demonstrations in cities across the country on January 17 and a march in Washington DC on inauguration day itself.
“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from January 16 through at least January 20, and at the US Capitol from January 17 through January 20,” according to the internal Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) bulletin obtained by CNN and other media outlets.
Biden is slated to be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, along with Indian-origin Kamala Harris as the Vice President.
On Monday, Biden told reporters he was not afraid to take the oath of office outside of the US Capitol.
Both he and Harris are still expected to be sworn in outside the building, only two weeks after it was the site of a deadly raid by radical supporters of Trump opposing the election result.
Only after the Congressional certification of the November 3 presidential elections last week, the outgoing Republican President Trump has reluctantly accepted the election results and promised a smooth transition of power.
But he still believes the presidential elections had massive voters’ fraud, an allegation which remains unsubstantiated and have been thrown out of courts dozens of times.
However, Trump’s repeated assertion of massive voters’ fraud has incited his base. This resulted in thousands of his supporters storming the Capitol Hill, the historic building, that houses the US Congress on January 6.
Five people, including a woman and a police official died and several dozens injured in the incident that is now considered as a dark letter day in the history of American democracy.
The Democratic Party, which has majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and would occupy the White House after January 20, on Monday moved second impeachment proceedings against Trump, blaming him for the unprecedented violence.
The FBI and the American security and intelligence agencies, who were taken aback by the last week inglorious moment at the Capitol Hill, a major breach of security that put the lives of hundreds of American lawmakers at risk, are now leaving nothing to chance.
“On 8 January, the FBI received information on an identified group calling for others to join them in ‘storming’ state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event POTUS is removed as President prior to Inauguration Day.
“This identified group is also planning to ‘storm’ government offices including in the District of Columbia and in every state, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump, on 20 January,” said the FBI bulletin, according to CNN.
The FBI is also tracking reports of “various threats to harm President-Elect Biden ahead of the presidential inauguration,” the bulletin. “Additional reports indicate threats against VP-Elect Harris and Speaker Pelosi,” the bulletin said.
Interestingly, Trump himself has issued an emergency declaration for the national capital here till January 24.
In a statement on Monday, the White House said the President’s action authorises the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts to alleviate the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population.
Washington DC, meanwhile, is being converted into a garrison city to prevent any kind of untoward incident ahead of the inauguration. The Pentagon has approved to deploy more than 15,000 additional National Guard troops in the national capitol.
Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters during a conference call that as of Monday 6,000 national guard troops have already been deployed in the city.
Troops in riot gear and shield have already occupied strategic locations in Washington DC. A close look is being kept at all the hotels and incoming traffic.
The Site Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist threats online, said in a report that a day of armed far-right protests is scheduled for January 17 and has been in the works for weeks, with Trump supporters and anti-government activists promoting marches in Washington and at state capitols around the nation, The Wall Street Journal said.
Fliers promoting the event are circulating online, including one encouraging people to “come armed at your personal discretion,” it said.
Other pro-Trump groups are planning Million Militia March on January 20, the daily said.
According to The New York Times, State Capitols are bracing up for violence on and around January 20. State legislatures already becoming targets for protesters, the daily said.
“Dozens of state capitals will be on alert in the coming days, following calls among a mix of antigovernment organizations for actions in all 50 states on January 17. Some of them come from far-right organisations that harbour a broad anti-government agenda and have already been protesting state COVID-19 lockdowns since last spring,” The New York Times reported.