It’s only been a little over one week since the failed but deadly Capitol coup staged by far right extremists. And there are only five days left until Inauguration Day when President-elect Joe Biden will officially be sworn in. Although Trump has now finally denounced the violence that took place January 6 and asked for armed protesters to cease any further action — especially on his behalf — many are still planning to crash Inauguration Day in the worst ways.
Ahead of next Wednesday's event, Washington, D.C. and many states across the country are ramping up security measures and preparing reinforcements in case of armed protests on or before Inauguration Day. Currently, federal officials have reiterated warnings to leaders around the country that there are indefinite concerns about more extremists gathering for rallies and riots. An internal agency bulletin that was obtained by CNN this week warned that the FBI has received threats of "armed protests" in all 50 state capitols and at the Capitol.
"While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve,” the FBI said in a statement. “Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity. As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners. The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property."
Additionally, Facebook has identified a serious rise in violent rhetoric surrounding the inauguration. A spokesperson at Facebook, who chose to remain anonymous for safety purposes, told Reuters that the company has tracked content that shows the storming of the Capitol has galvanized other far-right extremists who are now planning other gatherings.
But various states are taking extreme measures to prevent any further violence. Extra security precautions are being implemented in battleground states like Pennsylvania that were crucial to Biden's presidential victory, given the dangerous rhetoric around the “stolen election.” Governors are making plans to activate the National Guard, closing state capitols, and putting up barriers to protect property. In Virginia, a state of emergency has already been declared in Richmond, and Capitol Square will be closed ahead of anticipated protests and potential violence. Larger, more populous states like New York and California are also on high alert. In New York, police are boosting security both in and surrounding the State Capitol in Albany, and in California fences have been erected around the Capitol.
Washington, D.C., specifically, is going all out: the National Guard has already practically taken over on Capitol Hill to protect government officials, with images of guardsmen littering the entire building for the duration of the week. Robert Contee, the D.C. Police Chief, said this week that more than 20,000 National Guard members could be expected in that area alone to protect Biden's inauguration.
In spite of all of this, the in-person inauguration has not been traded in for a virtual one — which many are concerned about both because of the pandemic as well as potential violence. Already, Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol planned to capture and assassinate public officials, federal prosecutors said in court filings released this week. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke at length about the “close encounter” she had with rioters, during which she thought she was going to die. And Trump has already faced his second impeachment, while many of the extremists who were part of the violent attack are still being arrested.
With all of this coming to light, it’s very likely that this is not the last we’ve seen from Trump supporters who seek to cause havoc and exact revenge for what they believe is Biden's "false" win. The same dangerous actors who raided the Capitol on January 6 — including QAnon conspiracists, the Proud Boys, Nazis and more — are expected to show up to riot within the next week. Right now, the only thing known for sure is that this will be an Inauguration Day unlike any other.