With the FBI warning that pro-Trump forces are planning “armed protests” in all 50 states capitols and Washington, D.C. in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, California law enforcement is beefing up security in Sacramento and elsewhere as lawmakers call for special domestic terrorism units to be established.
Officials declined to share details of their plans or disclose whether Sacramento had received any specific threats of violence from radicalized Trump supporters in the wake of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol building, saying only that “additional security measures” are being taken.
“Any potential threat to the safety of the Assembly is taken very seriously,” Alisa Buckley, chief sergeant at arms of the California Assembly, tells the Los Angeles Times. “In light of recent armed protests at the U.S. Capitol, additional security measures are being implemented in the Assembly, though we will not be disclosing the nature of those security measures publicly.”
State Senate Sergeant at Arms Katrina Rodriguez added that the Senate “keeps close watch on potential challenges and threats to security” and will be “implementing additional security measures.”
A heightened police presence was reportedly visible at the State House Monday, with dozens of officers from the California Highway Patrol—which is in charge of protecting the Capitol—gathered nearby while uniformed and plainclothes police, as well as mounted cops, monitored barriers erected at the main entrance.
While the Highway Patrol maintains it has “personnel ready to respond to protect state property and ensure public safety as necessary,” Governor Gavin Newsom says he’s ready to call out the National Guard “as needed” with the January 20 inauguration looming.
A National Guard source told the Times they don’t expect massive crowds in Sacramento but that several Guard companies are ready for deployment just in case. Brian Ferguson with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said the National Guard would be called only after they’ve gotten all the help they can get from local agencies.
A law enforcement source tells the Times that the FBI is especially concerned that pro-Trump forces are planning to send extremists into state capitols after seeing calls for such actions on a fringe website and in encrypted messages.
“Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity,” the FBI said, adding that the bureau “respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights,” and will focus “not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property.”
Meanwhile, Los Angeles state senator Henry Stern and Santa Ana senator Tom Umberg introduced legislation on Monday calling for the California Attorney General and the California Office of Emergency Services to establish law enforcement units specifically devoted to fighting domestic terrorism.
“Let’s be very clear,” Stern said. “What happened last week [at the U.S. Capitol] wasn’t Antifa. It was effectively sponsored by a president and his loyalists in local, state and federal office who have been encouraging and supporting the white nationalist movement, helping it get bigger and stronger to try and normalize the types of atrocious activities we witnessed in Washington. We have to respond not just with blustery condemnation, but with a concrete answer to this threat to domestic security.”
As Sacramento preps for trouble, angry Trump supporters have already been a problem in LA. Several arrests were made last Wednesday, when Trumpists demonstrated outside of City Hall and clashed with counter-protestors. The LAPD is still seeking two men in connection with an assault on a Black woman there.
LAPD spokesman Captain Stacy Spell tells the Times that the department “has planned for increased activity during inauguration week” and “will have adequate resources to respond to any situation, maintain order, and keep the peace while protecting and serving all members of the community.”