BOSTON — While an FBI bulletin has warned of the possibility of armed demonstrations at all 50 state capitals, the bureau’s Boston Division said it has no intelligence of an armed protest planned for the Massachusetts State House.
Similarly, Massachusetts State Police said Monday they were not aware of any threats to specific government venues or the general public safety.
“We will continue to monitor all available intelligence over the coming days, will be prepared for any contingencies, and will adjust our security operations accordingly,” state police spokesperson Dave Procopio said.
The FBI Boston Division also covers Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island and said Monday that it also has no information indicating armed protests are planned for those state capitals.
“The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights,” the Boston Division said in a statement. “Our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is dual and simultaneous, not contradictory. Accordingly, we are committed to investigating violent behavior and those who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law.”
An internal FBI bulletin warned that, as of Sunday, the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of some extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC.
“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
In light of the reported bulletin, Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano issued a joint statement on security at the Massachusetts State House.
“The safety of the Massachusetts State House, its employees and its neighbors is of utmost importance. As we witness the events in Washington, D.C., and across the nation, we are aware of the need to ensure the safety of this building and those who work within it. We continually assess our security needs and will adjust as necessary,” they wrote.
The FBI issued at least one other bulletin – they go out to law enforcement nationwide on the topic — before the riots last week. On Dec. 29, it warned of the potential for armed demonstrators targeting legislatures, the second official said.
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told reporters on Monday that the Guard is also looking at any issues across the country,
“We’re keeping a look across the entire country to make sure that we’re monitoring, and that our Guards in every state are in close coordination with their local law enforcement agencies to provide any support requested.”
The riots followed weeks of online calls for violence in Washington in the waning days of Donald Trump’s presidency.
A tweet in which Trump promised that last Wednesday’s event “will be wild” fueled a “month-long frenzy of incitements, strategizing, and embrace of violence against lawmakers,” according to a research group that tracks online extremism activity, In a report issued Saturday, the SITE Intelligence Group also warns that the Capitol attack has emboldened Trump-supporting extremists.
“No matter how all this plays out, its only the beginning,” posted a user on TheDonald message board, according to the report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.