FBI warns of planned armed protests in run up to Inauguration Day

12 January 2021, 00:38

The FBI warning came after violent protests at the Capitol building
The FBI warning came after violent protests at the Capitol building. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The FBI is warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington DC ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration.

An alert to law enforcement agencies from the FBI warned of groups calling for the "storming" of federal, state and local courthouses in all 50 states if President Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day on January 20, CBS News reported.

The memo also said that there were reports of non-specified threats being made against President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

On Monday, President-Elect Biden told reporters he was not afraid to take the oath of office outside of the US Capitol.

Both he and Kamala Harris are still expected to be sworn in outside the building, only two weeks after it was the site of disorder after supporters of Donald Trump contested the results of the election.

The internal bulletin has sparked fears of more bloodshed following chaotic scenes at the US Capitol building last week.

Protesters stormed the US Capitol building
Protesters stormed the US Capitol building. Picture: Getty

Police departments around the United States are now bracing for the possibility of further violence in the days before Joe Biden takes office.

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 17 January and a march in Washington DC on inauguration day itself.

Investigators believe some of the people are members of extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC.

"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," the bulletin said, according to one official.

The FBI issued at least one other bulletin - they go out to law enforcement nationwide on the topic - before the riots last week.

On December 29, it warned of the potential for armed demonstrators targeting legislatures, the second official said.

Army Gen Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters on Monday that the Guard is also looking at any issues across the country,

"We're keeping a look across the entire country to make sure that we're monitoring, and that our Guards in every state are in close coordination with their local law enforcement agencies to provide any support requested," he said.

The riots followed weeks of online calls for violence in the nation's capital in the waning days of Donald Trump's presidency.

A tweet in which President Trump promised that last Wednesday's event in Washington "will be wild" fuelled a "month-long frenzy of incitements, strategizing, and embrace of violence against lawmakers," according to a research group that tracks online extremism activity.

In a report issued on Saturday, the Site Intelligence Group also warned that the Capitol attack has emboldened Trump-supporting extremists.

The talk of armed marches next week is not limited to "radicalized" Trump supporters.

State capital events on January 17 appear to be promoted by supporters of the anti-government, pro-gun "boogaloo" movement.

Boogaloo followers advocate for a second civil war or the collapse of society, and they do not adhere to a coherent political philosophy.