More than a dozen metro stations in the nation’s capital are closing and up to 20,000 National Guard troops will invade the city Wednesday for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
On Thursday, the nation’s capital and cities across the country were making plans to improve security as the opening day approached. But an FBI warning of possible armed protests at state capitol buildings across the country next week, as well as likely gatherings in other cities, raises the question of whether the country can be fully prepared. to possible violence. What if this threat ends at the end of the inaugural festivities.
Groups tracking down right-wing extremist organizations have said preparations for more violence are underway by supporters of Donald Trump who mistakenly believe he won the 2020 election. Talking about violence comes as no surprise to him. University of Maryland historian Terry Bouton.
Bouton, who has joined or attended dozens of protests in Washington over the past two decades, says he hasn’t seen anything quite like what happened on January 6 on the U.S. Capitol. And he wasn’t even close enough to see the chaos inside.
Five deaths have been linked to the riots as protesters overwhelmed police at the scene, smashing windows and bickering over congressional offices. Dozens of arrests have been made and the investigation continues.
“Some people were so angry, screaming in outrage, but it all seemed so well organized and orchestrated,” Bouton said of the crowd outside. “If they use similar types of tactics elsewhere, they’re going to piss off a lot of people who had no intention of engaging in violence.”
Some members of Congress are bristling with tighter security: The Ministry of Justice is committed to ensuring the security of the Capitol until the inauguration
Robert Pape, professor of political science and director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago, says the nationwide show of force by police and Guard members could deter violent activity during the week next. But the end of the inauguration might just be the start of resistance, he says.
“All of this could mean that Plan 1 is taken off the table, but it doesn’t mean that others are taken off the table,” Pope said. “National terrorists have the money and have access to the materials for chemicals and other types of attacks. And they have the time.”
In DC, tours were halted at the Washington Monument. The National Park Service said no decision has been made on whether to close the entire National Mall, a majestic two-mile stretch between the Lincoln Memorial on the west end and the U.S. Capitol in the East.
“Everyone is on alert”: While the National Guard is in Washington, state capitals prepare for possible armed protests
Police and National Guard officials have promised increased security in most of the state capitol buildings. Cities that do not host state governments were not standing aside from the preparations. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week that there were no tangible threats to the city but officials were “absolutely ready if one emerges to shift the resources in place to deal with them. quickly”.
The NYPD said it had tightened security at Trump Tower and elsewhere as a precaution.
“From now on, until the inauguration, we will have a strong presence in the sites affiliated with Trump,” the police department announced days after the riot on Capitol Hill. “After the inauguration, we will reassess our security posture.”
In Los Angeles on the day of the Capitol Riot, six people were arrested after multiple fighting erupted as dozens of Trump supporters gathered outside City Hall. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said there were no known threats but that he was “monitoring the situation” and would be ready in the event of protests or violence.
“You can’t watch them,” Bouton said of far-right groups that might be preparing for violent clashes. “They got kicked from Twitter and Talk, so they’re now on cryptic sites. Who knows what they’re talking about.”
Pope said serious and strong groups “are not likely to advertise themselves on Twitter.” The repeated speech about a stolen election is the “oxygen” that provides social approval for the political cause, Pope said. And that encourages extremists.
Facing criminal charges, getting fired from your job and losing support for their cause is the best way to deter them, Pope said.
“This is why it is so important for Republican leaders to say that the election was not stolen,” Pope said. “The best thing to do would be for Donald Trump to say ‘I was wrong’.”