Last week’s U.S. capitol riot may not be the last of the riots. Authorities in Atlanta and others across the country are preparing for the possibility of more unrest ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one Georgia-based militia told the outlet that it would protest at the state Capitol on Sunday morning.
The FBI has previously warned of more armed protests to occur at all 50 state capitals across the nation and Washington, D.C.
Officials say other protests might materialize or spill out into the downtown Atlanta and Midtown area.
A website’s social media posts monitored by AJC promotes the national, 50 state protests, saying they will be peaceful but does encourage protesters to come armed.
“This is the time to shatter the fear narrative spread by the mainstream (sic) media and unite against those who wish to take our rights away,” one post read. “If you can carry legally, you should carry. If you wish to be unarmed, come unarmed.”
Governor Brian Kemp ordered that the Capitol Police, State Patrol, and Georgia Guard amp up its security on the state Capitol grounds. Kemp has also declared that he will not tolerate the violations of laws seen at last week’s siege.
Extremist groups are at odds over last week’s riot and moving forward. While some have issued a call to action, others have praised and defended last week’s madness. Some urge their comrades to stay at home through the inauguration while again spinning new conspiracy theories in the process, the outlet reports.
“This is a demoncratic (sic) ploy to make us look bad and have an excuse to fire on us, make Trump look like he is doing a coup, and start a civil war as a diversion and a reason to call in the UN,” one commenter wrote on a message board popular with far-right paramilitary groups. “NOBODY GO. Stay home!”
So far, 200 suspects from last week’s siege have been identified, and over 100 have been arrested, FBI Director Christopher Wray said alongside VP Mike Pence.
“We know who you are, if you are out there, and FBI agents are coming to find you,” he said and warned those who might be plotting violence on Inauguration Day to stay home.
“Look at what is happening now to the people who were involved in the Capitol siege, wherever they scattered to,” he said. “We have FBI agents tracking them down and arresting them.”
Georgia authorities aren’t taking any chances and have employed officers in military-style uniforms to patrol the Capitol grounds. The Atlanta police department has suspended leave and added 12-hour shifts to prepare, and Gov. Kemp extended his executive order authorizing the deployment of the Georgia National Guard.
“I want to assure everyone from legislators, staff, visitors and the general public on down that the Department of Public Safety, the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia National Guard take the safety and security of the Capitol and the people here very seriously,” said Kemp, who also called the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol “disgraceful” and “unamerican.”
Kemp assured the public that Georgia’s law enforcement agencies are “fully prepared to deal with anything and everything that may happen in the days and weeks ahead.”
Atlanta police backed that statement, saying they are prepared to respond quickly in cases of trouble.
“The City of Atlanta Police Department continues to coordinate with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to respond, should protests or illegal activity occur,” Atlanta police spokesman Steve Avery said.
The FBI is also on the side of state and local law enforcement agencies, lending them its support.
“Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity,” FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said. “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.”
“Our focus is not on peaceful protesters,” he added, “but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property.”