The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has learned that “armed protests” are allegedly being planned at all 50 state capitols, including Washington, DC ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Former security officers and political observers have discussed the apparently looming unrest and measures to prevent violence.
The reported nationwide armed protests could potentially take place from 16 January through at least 20 January, ABC reported, citing an FBI internal bulletin.
The memo was issued following the Capitol incident which claimed five lives and left many more injured. At least 160 case files have been opened by the FBI with regard to the storming of the congressional premises on 6 January, which followed a largely peaceful Trump rally in Washington, DC.
Three Ways to Curb Possible Spike in Violence
The concerns of possible violent protests in the wake of the Capitol breach are very founded, says Bobby Chacon, a retired FBI agent.
“In light of the fact that they showed a willingness to engage in violence last week, we have every reason to believe that some of these groups could try to repeat that type of behaviour next week”, he suggests. “The biggest lesson that we’ve learned from the events of January 6, are that we need to take these people seriously and that they are a serious threat of violence. And they are a serious threat of destruction of property and of breaking into government buildings”.
Chacon expects more protests and rallies on Inauguration Day and in the days leading up to the event. He draws attention to the fact that there are groups that are actually saying they are going to do this on the Internet.
There are three measures which can be taken to prevent or curb further protests, according to former FBI agent:
· First, fences, uniformed police officers with canines and other security apparatus should be put in place in an “overwhelming show of security”.
· Second, the FBI can send agents in advance to knock on the doors of some of the leaders of these groups that they can identify online and warn them that if they engage in any kind of unlawful activities, or encourage others to engage in it, they will be prosecuted if they break the law.
· Third, Democratic and Republican leaders, including Joe Biden, Donald Trump and the rest, need to start to lead the US in a conciliatory tone and bring people together instead of being divisive.
The DC protests put the US political system at a very dangerous moment given that despite last week’s events, Trump’s core supporters are still willing to take the president at his word, regardless of what goes on around them, echoes Dr Yu Ouyang, assistant professor of political science at Purdue University Northwest.
REUTERS / ERIN SCOTT
Members of the National Guard gather at the U.S. Capitol as the House of Representatives prepares to begin the voting process on a resolution demanding U.S. Vice President Pence and the cabinet remove President Trump from office, in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2021
‘Nothing FBI Says is Necessarily Truth’
Still, it appears that the situation is not as black and white as it seems, according to Larry C. Johnson, former CIA analyst and ex-State Department Office of Counterterrorism official, who does not rule out “misinformation” with regard to reported protests.
“[Violent protests are] always possible”, he says. “There’s so much misinformation, disinformation going on right now. The real problem in the United States is – you’re no longer sure what you can trust. We’re in a situation in the United States now that is very reminiscent of what the Soviet Union was back under the times of Brezhnev – it’s that bad. I don’t know if the FBI is lying or not. We can’t trust the FBI. Nothing they say is necessarily true. That’s the unfortunate reality”.
While Johnson expects a spike in protests, he does not rule out that they could be run by Antifa disguised as Trump supporters “to try to create an incident to further isolate and try to tamp down protests by the genuine supporters of Trump”. At the same time he downplays fears that Biden’s inauguration could be marred by some violent incidents: first, there’s not going to be an open out-in-the-air inauguration, and second, there’s not going to be a lot of people attending the event, according to him.
“There are some very unusual things going on right now”, the former official believes. “Because the overreaction by the Big Tech companies [and] by the Democrats is so extreme, because Donald Trump is going to leave office but they’re acting like he is going to launch a coup to stay – which is the irony is – the only coup attempt has been against Donald Trump. Unfortunately, America has become a third world country”.
Commenting on the Capitol incident, the CIA veteran opines that there were also elements of Antifa, skinheads, and neo-Nazis among the Trump supporters on that day. Previously, the FBI stated that there is no evidence that Antifa activists took part in the protests. However, Andy Ngo, an American journalist specialising in Antifa issues identified at least one activist, John Earle Sullivan, who was reportedly spotted taking part in BLM-Antifa protests.
One of the men who was part of the siege of the Capitol building is John Earle Sullivan, an extreme BLM activist from Utah. He was arrested & charged in July 2020 over a BLM-antifa riot where drivers in Provo were threatened & one was shot. https://t.co/C0WQsEfcIG pic.twitter.com/Kxm5du2Ozs
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) January 7, 2021
”I think the events on January 6… is a bit of a setup”, Johnson suggests. “It is not what it is being portrayed as – this has been portrayed as a group of violent Trump supporters who stormed the capital and rioted. You know, that’s not what happened. The Trump supporters did rush to the Capitol but there were elements of a crowd that had other agendas, that were not backing Trump, but were dressed up as Trump supporters and did commit acts of violence. Part of this appears to have been an effort designed to deliberately discredit the Trump supporters. This has been characterised as an act of insurrection. It’s nothing of the sort. But the only casualty out of this is truth”.