Protests likely in DC, state capitols

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The timeline breaks down the riot that took place at the U.S. Capitol, when a Pro-Trump mob stormed the building, sending members of Congress running.

USA TODAY

All 50 states and the District of Columbia are preparing for what law enforcement officials say could be violent protests this weekend through Wednesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden following the deadly pro-Donald Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. In D.C., streets are closed, Metro stations are shuttered and the U.S. Capitol is surrounded with heavy barricading and National Guard members. State capitols are also bracing for the possibility of violence from armed extremist groups. Keep refreshing this page for the latest updates on security and protests from across the USA TODAY Network.

Law enforcement, National Guard prep for potential for explosives, reports say

Law enforcement offices and National Guard members have been briefed about the potential for explosive devices at protests this weekend through the presidential inauguration, reports from ABC News and Politico say.

Politico reported Wednesday, citing two unnamed Guardsmen who were briefed, that National Guard units were being told to prepare for any potential improvised explosive device attack on the Capitol carried out by individuals.

On Friday, ABC News’ Aaron Katersky tweeted that an FBI bulletin issued a similar warming to law enforcement officers.

In the wake of the riot at the U.S Capitol on Jan. 6, authorities are still investigating two suspected explosive devices found near the Republican and Democratic headquarters. An Alabama man was also arrested after police found 11 Molotov cocktail devices “ready to go” during the insurrection.

Far-right extremists plan to steer clear of Inauguration Day protests

Authorities are arresting more and more people involved in last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol. Online gathering spaces for the far-right have been shuttered or are sputtering under a flood of new users. And thousands of National Guard troops have been brought in to protect the nation’s capital.

In the midst of it all, leaders of far-right, extremist factions are telling their followers to stay away from protests planned across the country this weekend and on Inauguration Day. 

Experts on far-right extremism agree that, unlike the days before the Jan. 6 insurrection, the online ecosystem used by President Donald Trump’s most outspoken supporters has been muted, with fewer signs that large crowds will gather in Washington or state capitals for protests planned Sunday and Wednesday, Inauguration Day.

But, they cautioned, that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of violence. Read more here.

– Will Carless and Nathan Bomey

Businesses, residents prepare in downtown Columbus, Ohio

Law enforcement, property and business owners and residents are preparing for what might happen this weekend around Ohio’s Statehouse in Columbus.

“I am afraid of the guns. I am afraid of confrontation. And I think that’s what it is,” said longtime resident Susan Ungar. 

Columbus Police Cmdr. Smith Weir said that “several hundred” officers will be in the Capitol Square area Sunday. He said there are no plans to block traffic around the Statehouse or to implement a curfew. Asked about whether property owners should board up windows and provide extra security, Weir said that’s a personal decision. 

“We are barely surviving as it is now,” said Nick Steth, owner of Broad Street Bagels and Deli across from the Statehouse, and whose windows were boarded up after protests in May. “I don’t want more damage.”

– Mark Ferenchik, The Columbus Dispatch

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Chain fence around California Capitol; Highway Patrol refusing permits

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday mobilized 1,000 members of the National Guard amid other security precautions over concerns of civil unrest.

The state also erected a temporary chain link fence around the state Capitol, bolstering other temporary and permanent barriers. The California Highway Patrol has refused to issue permits for rallies that had been planned there.

Newsom said Guard members will “protect critical infrastructure” including the state Capitol while other state officials monitor threats and requests for aid around the clock.

Pennsylvania activates 450 National Guard members

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday activated about 450 National Guard members to augment the local and State Police response as law enforcement officials discussed preparations for inauguration-related protests at the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

“I will not allow what happened at our nation’s capital to happen here,” Wolf said.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Police Superintendent Joe Jacob said his department has already pursued “increased visibility” with special operations team members patrolling the Capitol grounds in full gear.

– J.D. Prose, Pennsylvania State Capitol Bureau

Nevada assembles ‘quick response unit’ within National Guard

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered the state’s National Guard to assemble a response unit to prepare for “potential activity” at the state capitol ahead of the presidential inauguration, he announced Thursday.

The Department of Public Safety “is confident that it has an effective operational plan in place in case the demonstrations threaten property or persons,” Sisolak’s office said in a statement.

Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong has said authorities have been receiving threats at the state capitol building following the riot at the U.S. Capitol building last week, though Furlong says they aren’t much different from threats that his department has been receiving since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Thursday, the FBI Las Vegas said that they haven’t received any specific and substantiated threat to the Nevada State Capitol but is gathering information to identify any potential threats.

– Kristin Oh, Reno Gazette Journal

FBI asks local officials for intel as 21,000 National Guard assemble in DC

FBI Director Christopher Wray and other federal officials have asked local authorities to scour their networks for information that could aid in the preparations for next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The Department of Homeland Security implemented a lockdown in downtown Washington, D.C., nearly a week ahead of schedule following threats of more violence leading up to Inauguration Day. The Jan. 6 insurrection left 5 dead, including a Capitol Police officer. As part of enhanced security measures, roughly 21,000 members of the National Guard will be in D.C. A USA TODAY analysis shows that figure is approximately four times the number of American troops currently deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

– Kevin Johnson, Karina Zaiets, Javier Zarracina and Kim Hjelmgaard

Decision pending on if National Mall will close for inauguration

The National Park Service said Thursday that news reports claiming the entire National Mall will be closed for the inauguration were incorrect, but that no decision had been made. The area stretches over 2 miles from the Lincoln Memorial on the west end to the U.S. Capitol on the east. 

“No final decision has been made regarding closures on the National Mall for the inaugural events,” the agency said in a statement. “When a decision is reached, an announcement will be made by the United States Secret Service and/or National Park Service.”

Tours at the Washington Monument have been halted.

– John Bacon

Republican Rep. Peter Meijer says he, other members buying body armor

Rep. Peter Meijer, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump, said Thursday that he and some of his other colleagues are buying body armor and altering their daily routines due to fear of violence.

“It’s sad that we have to get to that point, but you know our expectation is that someone may try to kill us,” Meijer, R-Mich., said in an interview on MSNBC.

Meijer said that the body armor is a reimbursable purchase they can make.

– Rebecca Morin

Biden cancels Amtrak trip for inauguration over security concerns

President-elect Joe Biden will no longer take an Amtrak train from Delaware to Washington for his inauguration because of security concerns, a person briefed on the decision told the Associated Press.

The president-elect’s decision reflects growing worries over potential threats in the Capitol and across the U.S. in the lead-up to Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Biden received a briefing from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service and key members of his national security team.

More coverage and stories from USA TODAY

► New Jersey congresswoman demands investigation into colleagues’ ‘reconnaissance’ tours of Capitol

► Armed ‘militias’ are illegal. Will authorities finally crack down if they show up at state capitals next week?

► Not just the House: From golf pros to the Central Park Carousel, President Donald Trump is rebuffed

► Fact check: What’s true about the Capitol riot, from antifa to BLM to Chuck Norris

Contributing: The Associated Press

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