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FBI tells police nationwide to brace for Inauguration Day unrest

Officers stand near crime scene tape. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
January 14, 2021

The FBI is advising law enforcement leaders across the United States this week to be prepared for unrest and continue sharing intelligence in the days leading up to and throughout President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The New York Times reported that acting FBI Director Christopher Wray and acting United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli warned of potential extremist violence during a 45-minute phone call with police chiefs on Wednesday, adding that law enforcement should be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina told the Times that Wray said law enforcement should “overshare intelligence,” noting “they don’t want for us to assume anything that they already know – anything that we come across to please forward it.”

The likely targets for attacks that appeared to cause the most concern were state capitol buildings, federal buildings and the private homes of congressmen and women, an unidentified police chief told the news outlet. The warning comes a week after the Capitol Hill protest that turned violent, forcing the Capitol into lockdown and leading to the deaths of four people.

Separately, an internal FBI bulletin leaked Monday warning of armed protests expected in all 50 state capitals this weekend and throughout President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“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 bulletin said.

“The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January,” said the bulletin, which was provided to ABC News. “They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising will occur.”

Thousands of armed National Guardsmen are already deployed in Washington, D.C., and the number of servicemembers could reach 20,000 by inauguration day. Up to 15,000 troops had been authorized as of Wednesday.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who is in charge of National Guard deployments, said during a press conference alongside D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser last week that 6,200 troops were immediately deployed, and a seven-foot “non-scalable fence” would be constructed around the Capitol and remain for the next month.

“These personnel and these security measures will be in place for no less than the next 30 days and we will be keeping all of these support mechanisms in place in constant coordination with the Capitol Hill police and the mayor’s office,” McCarthy said.