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U.S. state capitals, Washington on alert for possible pro-Trump armed protests


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U.S. state capitals, Washington on alert for possible pro-Trump armed protests

By Nathan Layne and Patricia Zengerle

 

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FILE PHOTO: National Guard members walk at the Capitol, in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2021. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

 

(Reuters) - Ten days after rioters breached the U.S. Capitol in a deadly attack that stunned the world, cities nationwide were girding for a potential new wave of violent protests over the weekend, erecting barriers and deploying thousands of National Guard troops.

 

The FBI warned police agencies of possible armed demonstrations outside all 50 state capitol buildings starting Saturday through President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, fueled by supporters of President Donald Trump who believe his false claims of electoral fraud.

 

Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Washington were among more than a dozen states that activated their National Guards to strengthen security. Meanwhile, downtown Washington, D.C., was virtually empty, with streets near the Capitol closed and battalions of camouflaged National Guard soldiers taking up positions across the city center.

 

The nationwide security scramble followed the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mix of extremists and Trump supporters, some of whom called for the death of Vice President Mike Pence as he presided over the certification of Biden's election victory.

 

The Democratic leaders of four U.S. 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 asking what was known about threats, whether the information was shared and whether foreign influence played any role.

 

"This still-emerging story is one of astounding bravery by some U.S. Capitol Police and other officers; of staggering treachery by violent criminals; and of apparent and high-level failures — in particular, with respect to intelligence and security preparedness," said the letter.

 

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.

 

There were scattered demonstrations on Saturday, but statehouses remained mostly quiet. Law enforcement officials have trained much of their focus on Sunday, when the anti-government "boogaloo" movement made plans weeks ago to hold rallies in all 50 states.

 

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." Texas closed its Capitol through Inauguration Day.

 

In Michigan, a fence was erected around the Capitol in Lansing, and troopers were mobilized from across the state to bolster security. The legislature canceled meetings next week, citing concern over credible threats.

 

In a nod to both the coronavirus pandemic as well as security concerns, festivities around Biden's inauguration will largely be held online, though the president-elect still plans to be sworn in and deliver his inaugural address at the Capitol.

 

The inaugural committee's virtual "welcome event" took place on Saturday evening, featuring appearances from union leaders, activists and celebrities such as actor Whoopi Goldberg.

 

"Make no mistake, the road ahead - it won't be easy," Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who closed out the event, told viewers. "But America is ready, and so are Joe and I."

 

DOMESTIC EXTREMISTS

 

The perception that the Jan. 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 first reported by Yahoo News.

 

The Joint Intelligence Bulletin, produced by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center, further warned that "false narratives" about electoral fraud would serve as an ongoing catalyst for extremist groups.

 

Thousands of armed National Guard troops were on the streets of Washington in an unprecedented show of force after the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Bridges into the city were to be closed, and the National Mall and other iconic U.S. landmarks were blocked off into next week.

 

Authorities were on high alert. A Virginia man, Wesley Allen Beeler, was arrested on Friday evening at a security checkpoint after police said he presented an "unauthorized inauguration credential," according to a Capitol Police spokeswoman. Beeler had a loaded handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition, according to court papers.

 

A tearful Beeler later told the Washington Post he had been working security in Washington all week and pulled up to the checkpoint after getting lost. He told the paper he forgot the gun was in his truck and denied having so much ammunition.

 

Beeler was released after an initial court appearance on Saturday and is due back in court in June, records show.

 

Responding to news of the arrest, Democratic U.S. Representative Don Beyer of Virginia said the danger was real and the city was on edge.

 

"Anyone who can avoid the area around the Capitol and Mall this week should do so," Beyer wrote on Twitter.

 

The alarm extended beyond legislatures. The United Church of Christ, a Protestant denomination of more than 4,900 churches, warned its 800,000 members there were reports "liberal" churches could be attacked in the coming week.

 

Following the Jan. 6 violence in Washington, some militia members said they would not attend a long-planned pro-gun demonstration in Virginia, where authorities were worried about the risk of violence as multiple groups converged on the state capital, Richmond.

 

Some militias across the country have told followers to stay home this weekend, citing the increased security or the risk that the planned events were law enforcement traps.

 

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, and Patricia Zengerle in McLean, Virginia; Additional reporting by Joseph Ax in Princeton, New Jersey, Rich McKay in Atlanta, and Aram Roston, Brad Heath and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Writing by Nathan Layne, Patricia Zengerle and Joseph Ax; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-01-17
 
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More like willful ignorance.  Anyone trying to compare an attempted gov't overthrow by white nationalists with what BLM is all about is not interested in an intellectually honest debate.

Ok, lock them up with CNN 24/7 😉 

Anyone who believes in that Qanon tripe should have their head examined. Anyone who still supports Trump after four years of nothing but lies, toxicity and the most obnoxious and narcissistic behavior

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44 minutes ago, rudi49jr said:

That’s not enough, you also have to deprogram them, otherwise they will always be a threat. 

 

i'm all for punishment for the individuals involved in what happened. ensuring the safety of society and maintaining law and order is paramount yes.... but what exactly do you mean by deprogrammed ?

 

i wonder if you were one of the ones on here bashing the current thai government for the attitude adjustment camps. 

 

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Natai Beach said:

More street crowded street protests with people shouting spit all over each other.

 

It should help spread the covid around even more.

Many of them probably believe that it is a "deep state conspiracy" anyway!

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2 minutes ago, Chomper Higgot said:

We are fast learning that lies and conspiracy propaganda is the root cause of the threat to society.

 

Dealing with the ‘law and order’ is tearing the symptoms without addressing the underlying causes.

 

so

 

what exactly is meant by deprogrammed ? like the attitude adjustment camps the thai government was so highly criticized for ? 

 

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, polpott said:

Its the normal method of helping people return to society who have been brainwashed by a cult.

 

the irony of both sides of the american political spectrum calling each other brainwashed sheep. 

13 minutes ago, Chomper Higgot said:

s for your ‘bashing the current Thai government’.

 

1. Off topic.

2. False equivalence.

 

Biden has been elected by a clear majority in a free and fair election.

 

no its not. a member posted about deprogramming which carries the same sort of language as the thai re-education camps. to say otherwise is being disingenuous. where did i say biden didn't win ? 

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