Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitol buildings — including Sacramento’s— in the days leading up to the Inauguration of President-elect Joseph Biden on Jan. 20, according to a memo released to media by national FBI authorities.
The FBI report, first released to ABC News, warned that groups are planning to illegally break into state, local and federal buildings across the nation if President Trump is removed from office ahead of the inauguration.
But in Sacramento, local law enforcement have released statements indicating that business may continue as usual for now, despite the looming threat of violence and property destruction.
In a general statement provided to CapRadio, the Sacramento FBI says they are working with state, local and federal law enforcement to maintain public safety in the days before President-elect Joseph Biden formally takes office.
“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,” public affairs specialist Gina Swankie said in the statement.
At the same time, the Sacramento FBI says it respects peoples’ First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.
“Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property,” reads the FBI statement to CapRadio.
The Sacramento Police Department said it will not disclose details about information they’ve gathered about upcoming Trump demonstrations at California’s capitol. But officials told CapRadio in a statement that they will have a “large presence of officers dedicated to the area if any demonstrations do occur.”
The grounds of Sacramento’s capitol building are under the jurisdiction of the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
CHP public Information officer John Ortega sent CapRadio a statement that its officers are “always vigilant for potential threats that may occur at the State capitol” and that they are “ready to respond to protect the building if necessary.”
Ortega would not give more details about specific preparations for “security reasons.”
Meanwhile, racial justice advocates say they’re frustrated by the lack of information about how civilians will be protected in advance of expected demonstrations by armed protesters.
“I just want them to make sure the city is secure,” said Tanya Faison, founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento. “This protest is supposed to be armed, that’s against the law, unless it’s concealed. It’s against the law to be marching around with a gun.”
She adds that her organization will not be participating in any counter-protests for their own safety.
“I’m already living while Black, and the trauma we experience is enough for me,” she said, adding, “I don’t feel safe — not just for me —but for everybody.”
Far-right groups have already begun posting about plans for another round of coordinated armed demonstrations that could include Sacramento on Sunday, January 17.
Previous Trump demonstrations at the California capitol have included members of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group. Before the November election, people who study these movements warned that local elected officials should prepare for the possibility of violence in capital cities like Sacramento.
Simon Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress said that unless strong legal action is taken against the people involved in last week’s insurrection — such as arrests and jail time — protests will continue that mirror the actions taken at the nation’s Capitol last Wednesday.
“Unless there are severe criminal consequences for everybody involved, this will become a pattern, and we’ll see this again and again,” he said. “It’s all part of a single anti-democratic movement which is becoming increasingly violent and increasingly radicalized.”
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.