After the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, law enforcement and elected officials are bracing for the potential 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 is not authorized to comment publicly, said authorities also have been circulating a poster publicizing the events with the words, “When democracy is destroyed refused 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 fatally shot by police, died Wednesday after a mob incited by 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.
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While it remains unclear how many people will show up for these 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,” he said. “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 last week, 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.
On Monday, district Mayor Muriel Bowser asked Americans not to come to Washington for Biden’s inauguration, fearing violence and the spread of COVID-19.
“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, Bowser also asked that the department extend the period for special security for the inauguration to include Monday through Jan. 24.
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. The district’s police department would focus on the areas it has jurisdiction over in the rest of the city, she added.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
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.
Nicholas Goodwin, a spokesperson for the Department of Interior, told USA TODAY that the department was in regular communication with the mayor’s office and that the secretary would be talking with Bowser on Monday. ‘It could have been much, much worse’:Video, witness accounts reveal darker intent of some Capitol rioters
Elsewhere around the U.S., state capitals were beefing up security amid concerns of potential 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 Capitol buildings in Michigan and Minnesota, Yahoo News reported.
Yahoo News reported that it had obtained an FBI document produced by the Minneapolis field office based on information provided by “collaborative sources” issued a week before a mob of Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. 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 were also potential targets, ABC News reported.
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ADL, formerly known as the Anti-Defamation 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.
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. Don Jr. too. Eric too. Ivanka. Barron. The First Lady. They will not leave ANY Trump free to avenge what they have done to their father. THEY FOUGHT FOR US. What are WE going to DO?”
Segal, of the ADL, said that many of the plans for the Jan. 6 mob were similarly happening in plain sight, calling it “the most predictable terrorist incident in modern American history.”
However, what happened Jan. 6 was not just the plotting of extremist groups, Segal said. Many average Americans who believe in the narrative of a stolen election took part, too, after Trump called on his supporters to come to the district, he said.
Election security experts, state officials, judges and independent observers across the U.S. have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
“Even if we have relative quiet,” in the coming weeks, Segal said, “this is something that this country is going to be dealing with for a long time.”
Contributing: Jessica Guynn and The Associated Press