tate officials across the United States are preparing for potentially violent demonstrations in support of President Donald Trump in the days leading up to the January 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Several states, including California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Florida, had activated their National Guard forces to bolster security as of Saturday
Authorities in Washington, DC were also bracing for more violence following the deadly storming of the seat of the country’s legislature by pro-Trump rioters on January 6.
Meanwhile, a man with a loaded handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition has been arrested at a security checkpoint near the US Capitol.
Wesley Allen Beeler, of Virginia, had driven to a checkpoint on Friday evening and tried to use a fake credential to access the restricted area where Biden will be inaugurated next week, according to a document filed in Washington, DC Superior Court.
As officers checked against an authorised access list, one of them noticed decals on the back of Beeler’s pick-up truck that said “Assault Life”, with an image of a rifle, and another with the message: “If they come for your guns, give ’em your bullets first.”The security build-ups come after the FBI warned police agencies across the US of possible armed protests outside all 50 state capitol buildings starting on Saturday and lasting through Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
Experts said the capitals of battleground states Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona are among the most at risk of violence.
Those states have been central to Trump’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud, which he has used to foment unrest among his supporters, who stormed the US Capitol building as Congress met to certify Biden’s victory.
Rallies expected in all states
On Sunday, the anti-government “Boogaloo” movement plans to hold rallies in all 50 states.
Texas state officials closed the Capitol through Inauguration Day, with Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw saying late on Friday that intelligence indicated “violent extremists” may seek to exploit planned armed protests in Austin to “conduct criminal acts”.
In Michigan, a fence was erected around the Capitol in Lansing and troopers were mobilised from across the state to bolster security. The legislature cancelled meetings next week, citing concerns about credible threats.