According to a Federal Bureau of Investigation bulletin, President Donald Trump supporters like the group that attempted a coup last week, are planning yet more violent gatherings in the coming weeks. Starting on January 16, the bulletin says, these groups will be armed and are planning to “storm” government buildings in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
The violent groups appear to be planning events leading up to inauguration day, January 20. “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin says, according to ABC’s Aaron Katersky. An armed group is planning to go to D.C. on the 16th, and “have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur,” says Katersky.
Fear of violence has been especially heightened after the attempted coup by far right Trump supporters on January 6 when white supremacists broke into the Capitol building and went on a rampage that caused the death of five people.
At the time, a top FBI official asserted that the bureau didn’t know that violence was a possibility for this armed gathering, but an NBC report found that the FBI itself had warned officials about potential violence. As many have pointed out, the January 6 attempt to derail the democratic system was telegraphed widely on public internet forums accessible to anyone. As recent events have shown, the more recent bulletin from the FBI doesn’t guarantee action on the part of the FBI or any other entity that could intervene on the planned violence.
Court documents have shown that some Trump backers showed up armed with loaded guns, and police found two pipe bombs planted outside government buildings on the day of the Capitol breach. The FBI has since charged a man — a believer in QAnon conspiracy theories — who traveled to D.C. with multiple guns and “hundreds of rounds of ammunition” in his vehicle, reportedly with the intent of killing Nancy Pelosi on live TV.
The plans that the far right was making online were explicit. One user on far right forum 8kun said “we will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents, and demand a recount.” A Washington Post report found that users on far right forums were threatening violence on January 6 as far back as mid-December.
Much of the violence was brought on by false beliefs among the right wing groups that the results of the presidential election were fraudulent — an unsubstantiated rumor and flat-out conspiracy theory, as described by Victoria Collier in Truthout — started by President Trump himself. People associated with the “Stop the Steal” push have been associated with related violence also, such as the man who attended a pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally in Oregon and later fired five shots into Portland’s federal courthouse.
On Monday, the National Parks Service closed the Washington Monument until January 24, saying that “Groups involved in the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol continue to threaten to disrupt the 59th presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.” And in New York state, Katersky reports, police are planning to increase security around the state capitol.