Concerns are not limited to Jan. 20.
Fliers circulated in encrypted WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram groups over the weekend calling for an “armed march on Capitol Hill and all state capitols” at noon Jan. 17. The fliers, which include the instruction to “come armed at your personal discretion,” also appeared on the chat sites Gab and Parler that have attracted far-right voices. Various local militia groups in states from Pennsylvania to Florida to Michigan have posted calls on those platforms for their members to come out in force.
Another group, “Let America Hear Us, Roar For Trump,” has requested a permit from the National Park Service for a demonstration of at least 300 people in downtown Washington. The Park Service on Monday shut down tours of the Washington Monument through Jan. 24, citing “credible threats to visitors and park resources.”
Far right extremists groups continue to plot online. Nearly 400 people had joined a private group online dedicated to what is being billed as the “Million Militia March,” an event scheduled to take place in Washington on Jan. 20. Commenters have debated bringing baseball bats and body armor. The F.B.I. has notified local law enforcement of the potential for armed protests at all 50 state capitals, which are being organized and promoted by far-right extremist groups such as the Boogaloo movement.
Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia has asked the Park Service to stop issuing permits for public gatherings through the inauguration. Mike Litterst, a Park Service spokesman, said the Interior secretary, whose department includes the national parks, planned to discuss plans the matter with Ms. Bowser on Monday afternoon.
Ms. Bowser also sent a letter dated on Saturday to the Department of Homeland Security requesting a disaster declaration, which would free federal funding for the inauguration. Janet Montesi, a spokeswoman for FEMA, said in a statement the request is currently under review.
“This is necessary because the inauguration poses several unprecedented challenges that exceed the scope of our traditional planning processes: the Covid-19 pandemic and of course the domestic terror attack on the United States Capitol,” Ms. Bowser said during a news briefing.
“If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy because we have very extreme factions in our country that are armed and dangerous,” Ms. Bowser told reporters.
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