U.S. officials are stepping up security measures in Washington DC and across the country as the FBI said far-right groups – many of which use social media – continued to threaten plots ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration in as president on January 21.
As the National Park Service closed the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol grounds – which was stormed by mobs of pro-Trump extremists last week – were closed to visitors, with some 10,000 National Guards deployed to across DC, the FBI said. Far-right extremist groups were planning armed protests in all 50 state capitals and Washington, DC.
“We are not focusing on peaceful protesters, but on those who threaten their safety and that of other citizens through violence and destruction of their property,” the FBI said in a statement.
Persistent threats, which have prompted social media companies to remove accounts associated with individuals espousing the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, have led to efforts to impose multi-day security measures in an effort to protect the inauguration – an all-ticket. Event.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser also called on the National Park Service to deny all demonstration permits ahead of the inauguration.
Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said on Monday he postponed the schedule for the “special national security event” for Biden’s inauguration to Wednesday, instead of January 19, citing the “events from last week ”, as well as an“ Evolving Security Landscape ”.
Wolf’s statement comes as Trump – widely blamed for inciting violence last week – issued an emergency statement for the U.S. capital allowing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate with local authorities if necessary.
The warnings prompted various states to introduce emergency measures, including Michigan, which has banned the open carrying of firearms inside its state capital, and Wisconsin, whose governor has activated the National Guard to support Capital Police in Madison.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom said authorities were “on high alert” for protests in Sacramento in the coming days, adding that the National Guard would be deployed if necessary.
The lingering threats have been underscored by protests that have taken place since the storming of Congress, including heavily armed protesters surrounded the Kentucky capital, some with ziplines.
While anti-extremism experts note that planning for some of the protests in militia circles began in November after Trump was defeated by Biden, the events of the past week have fueled the flames.
Washington, however, looks likely to remain the center of attention, with another march scheduled for Sunday, although it is not clear whether it will take place.
Hoteliers and Airbnb are said to have already started checking some of those booked ahead of the inauguration, while some airlines have insisted they will not tolerate any unruly protesters.
PayPal Holdings Inc also said on Monday that it blocked a Christian crowdfunding site, GiveSendGo, after helping to raise funds for people who attended last week’s event in Washington when Trump supporters took to the streets. assault the capital.
Bloomberg reported last week that PayPal had closed an account held by Joy In Liberty, one of the groups that paid for Trump supporters to travel to Washington.
Representatives of GiveSendGo, which describes itself as “a place to fund hope. A place to work with the body of Christ across the world to make a difference, ”could not immediately be reached for comment.
Biden’s inauguration will take place at booths in the same location on the U.S. Capitol where pro-Trump extremists stormed in last week.
But the two events are not comparable from a security perspective, said Michael Plati, the U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge, who heads groundbreaking security.
Agencies contributed to this report