Extremists planning more violent events for Inauguration Day after US Capitol riots, experts warn

‘We fully expect that this violence could actually get worse before it gets better,’ says the Anti-Defamation League

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Saturday 09 January 2021 22:28 GMT
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Rioters storm the US Capitol on Wednesday following pro-Trump rally

Extremists are planning more violence ahead of Inauguration Day, experts have warned, in the wake of the US Capitol riots which left five people dead and dozens injured. 

"We are seeing ... chatter from these white supremacists, from these far-right extremists – they feel emboldened in this moment," Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told CNN. 

"We fully expect that this violence could actually get worse before it gets better."

Twitter also warned of increased online chatter relating to violence in the days ahead.  

“Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021,” the site said in a statement. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be inaugurated on 20 January. 

The social media giant took the extraordinary step of banning Mr Trump from the platform on Friday, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence” following the deadly insurrection on Wednesday.

The pro-Trump mob which stormed the Capitol on Wednesday in DC quickly overwhelmed law enforcement who were unprepared for the violence following the “Stop the Steal” rally, which saw the president riling up the crowd. Rioters quickly overtook police officers and breached the federal building.

Trump supporters had been openly planning attacks on the Capitol online for the past several weeks, according to reports. 

Social media had been flooded with extremist comments ahead of the attacks on the Capitol.

"We will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents, and demand a recount,” one message read, CNN reports.

Mr Trump had also been feeding his supporters via social media, specifically his Twitter account. 

"Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election," Mr Trump tweeted in December. "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"

During Wednesday’s attacks – which saw rioters smashing windows, using chemical agents, carrying firearms and explosive devices – Mr Trump asked the “great patriots” to act peacefully and leave the Capitol. But the president used the brief video statement to once again promote the baseless claim that the election was stolen from him.

He subsequently released another video to condemn all acts of violence and destruction - even though he had implored his followers to “march” on the Capitol earlier that day during the rally.

New analysis by Alethea Group, an organization combating disinformation, found an abundance of plans to commit violent acts on large social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, along with smaller site like Parler, which has become the site-of-choice for conservatives.

“So much of the conversation right now is the general making of threats,” Cindy Otis, vice president of analysis at Alethea, told The Washington Post. “There’s a risk of these particular dates leading to violence because that’s the kind of amped-up conversation we’re already seeing from people.” 

The analysis also revealed that attacks were being planned in locations such as Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; and Salt Lake City, Utah, in the days leading up to Inauguration Day,  and on the day itself. 

On another conservative site, TheDonald.win, created specifically for Trump supporters, one anonymous post read: “Round 2 on January 20th. This time no mercy. I don’t even care about keeping Trump in power. I care about war."

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser declared state of emergency that would last until on day after Inauguration Day following the riots. A 7-foot-tall “non-scalable” wall was also constructed around Capitol grounds and would remain up for at least 30 days. 

Mr Biden being inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on 20 January has already made the day a “national security special event" – as what is done with every Inauguration Day. But if any other security changes will be made before the event remain unknown. 

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