President Donald Trump approved a state of emergency in Washington, D.C., on Monday, ordering federal assistance to aid local officials amid claims that violent protests are planned in the city and across the country in the coming days.
President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, but reports are circulating that protests will begin in Washington as early as Jan. 16.
Democratic D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested the declaration of an emergency order in a Sunday letter to Trump. Meanwhile, the Washington Monument was ordered closed until at least Jan. 25 after the National Park Service (NPS) said it had received “credible threats” following last week’s riot inside the Capitol. Other memorials may be closed as well.
The FBI says far-right extremists are asking Trump supporters to “storm” the Capitol and stage “armed protests” in all 50 state capitols, ABC News reports, citing a bulletin.
“‘The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January,’ the bulletin read. ‘They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising will occur,’” ABC reported.
Trump’s emergency order authorizes the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide assistance for emergency actions. “Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” according to the declaration released by the White House Monday evening. “Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 100 percent Federal funding.”
The emergency order went into effect immediately and lasts through Jan. 24.
Social media has been abuzz with claims that more unrest is planned. “On Monday night, the new chiefs of Capitol Police told House Democrats they were looking into three separate plans, including one described as ‘the largest armed protest ever to take place on American soil,’” The Daily Mail reported.
The FBI said it is investigating all reports.
“Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity,” the FBI said in a statement to Fox News. “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. The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights.”
Last week, organizers announced that Biden’s inaugural parade has been canceled to limit crowds. Gatherings are already severely restricted in D.C., and after debate, Biden’s organizers decided to call the whole thing off. Instead, the inaugural committee is urging Americans not to travel to Washington for the event and is calling for smaller celebrations across the country.
Biden said he still plans to report to the Capitol at noon on Jan. 20 to be sworn in. “I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” he told reporters in Delaware.
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