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FBI Warns of Potential Nationwide Protests, Downtown DC to Lock Down Wednesday

January 12, 2021 by Dan McCue
Aerial Shot of the Washington Monument Looking South from the White House. (Photo courtesy of the National Parks Service)

WASHINGTON – The FBI has issued an internal bulletin warning of plans for armed protests by extremists in all 50 state capitals and in Washington in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The bulletin, first reported by ABC News, and later confirmed by the Associated Press, says “armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January.”

The AP says it was read details of the memo on condition of anonymity. Its revelation coincided with an announcement from federal authorities that they plan to lock down a huge swatch of downtown Washington on Wednesday — six days earlier than originally planned.

During a press conference on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the window for the National Special Security Event, which will involve tens of thousands of National Guard troops and federal law enforcement personnel, will begin Jan. 13.

During the expanded security period, many businesses around the Capitol and White House will be inaccessible.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the change was in light of “events of the past week and the evolving security landscape” leading up to the inauguration.

Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters 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.

Earlier Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam participated in a joint call to discuss planning for the inauguration.

The call covered recent requests by D.C. to the federal government, and the leaders discussed the need for enhanced planning and preparation compared to previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection last week.

After the call, they issued a joint statement that said the deadly riot at the Capitol “is now a seminal moment in American history.

“We are grateful for the courageous efforts of every law enforcement officer, Guard member, and first responder who heroically worked to secure the Capitol and ensure our nation’s democracy prevailed,” they said.

“On January 20, there will be a transition of power, and we will work together, and with our partners in the federal government, to ensure the safety of the National Capital Region. Due to the unique circumstances surrounding the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including last week’s violent insurrection as well as the ongoing and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking the extraordinary step of encouraging Americans not to come to Washington, D.C. and to instead participate virtually,” the statement said.

“In this very trying time, January 6 was a dark moment for our nation. But we know that we will get through this period because American ideals are stronger than one extreme ideology. Together, we will overcome extremism and get back to the work of our residents,” the statement concluded.

The U.S. Secret Service has also issued a statement on the inauguration,which is calls “a foundational element of our democracy.” 

“The safety and security of all those participating in the 59th Presidential Inauguration is of the utmost importance,” the Secret Service said. “As the lead agency for all National Special Security Event (NSSE) security operations, the U.S. Secret Service is responsible for designing and implementing an appropriate operational security plan, which is carried out in concert with partners charged with specific areas of management and response leading to and throughout the event.

“For well over a year, the U.S. Secret Service, along with our NSSE partners, has been working tirelessly to anticipate and prepare for all possible contingencies at every level to ensure a safe and secure Inauguration Day,” the agency said.

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