The FBI has received information indicating “armed protests” are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington, DC in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, according to an internal bulletin obtained by CNN.“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” it says.The bulletin, which was circulated after rioters stormed the US Capitol last week, also suggests there are threats of an “uprising” if President Donald Trump is removed via the 25th Amendment before inauguration day.“On 8 January, the FBI received information on an identified group calling for others to join them in ‘storming’ state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in the event POTUS is removed as President prior to Inauguration Day. This identified group is also planning to ‘storm’ government offices including in the District of Columbia and in every state, regardless of whether the states certified electoral votes for Biden or Trump, on 20 January,” the bulletin adds.Additionally, the FBI is tracking reports of “various threats to harm President-Elect Biden ahead of the presidential inauguration,” the bulletin states.“Additional reports indicate threats against VP-Elect Harris and Speaker Pelosi,” it adds.ABC News was first to report the FBI bulletin.Calls for new protests in Washington and states across the country have law enforcement bracing for more possible violence in the coming days after rioters stormed the US Capitol last week leaving five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.Authorities are preparing for additional personnel to help secure the nation’s capital in the coming days. A Department of Homeland Security official told CNN that the breach of the Capitol will sharpen the response and planning for inauguration.“Now that it happened people will take it much more seriously,” the official said, referring to last week’s violence. “Now, the planners, they are all going to take it much more seriously.”Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday urged Americans to avoid the city during Biden’s inauguration next week and to participate virtually following last week’s deadly domestic terror attack on the US Capitol.Meanwhile, the National Guard has plans to have up to 15,000 National Guard troops to meet current and future requests for the inauguration, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday. The dramatic increase in troops comes as law enforcement in the nation’s capital and around the country brace for further extremist violence amid the transition of power.Speaking at a news conference Monday, Bowser, a Democrat, stressed that she was concerned about more violent actors potentially coming to the city in the run-up to the inauguration, saying, “If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy, because we have very extreme factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”“Trumpism won’t die on January 20,” said Bowser, who has asked Trump and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to declare a pre-disaster declaration for DC.
Dec. 7, 2020 at 4:54 a.m. EST
“She’s decided to completely ignore all of the credible, credible, fraudulent evidence that has been continually pointed out,” demonstrator Genevieve Peters said of Benson, as she live-streamed the protest in Detroit on Facebook. “We’re out here in front of the secretary of state’s house and we want her to know we will continue to be here.”
Although the group dispersed with no arrests when police responded just before 10 p.m. Saturday, Michigan state officials accused the group of “terrorizing” Benson’s family.
“They shouted baseless conspiracy theories about the election, and in videos uploaded to social media, at least one individual could be heard shouting ‘you’re murderers’ within earshot of her child’s bedroom,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy (D) said in a joint statement on Sunday. “This mob-like behavior is an affront to basic morality and decency.”
They added that “terrorizing children and families at their own homes is not activism.”
Vitriolic rhetoric has led bipartisan leaders to warn that Trump’s baseless attacks on the election are endangering election officials’ lives. Multiple Michigan officials have reported being threatened and harassed over the election results, as have officials in Georgia, Arizona, Vermont, Kentucky, Minnesota and Colorado.
Benson also tied the Saturday protest to ongoing efforts by Trump’s supporters to undermine the election since polls closed on Election Day. On Nov. 4, election challengers shouted “Stop the count” inside a Detroit vote-counting center. About two weeks later, GOP appointees on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers initially refused to certify election results in the Detroit area, but later reversed course and formalized Biden’s victory.
Trump and his campaign have also challenged the election results in Michigan, calling on a discredited witness who went viral for her strange testimony on alleged election fraud, which she presented without evidence, in front of a state House panel.
“Through blatantly false press releases, purely political legislative hearings, bogus legal claims and so called ‘affidavits’ that fail to allege any clear or cogent evidence of wrongdoing, those unhappy with the results of this election have perpetuated an unprecedented, dangerous, egregious campaign to erode the public’s confidence in the results of one of the most secure, accessible and transparent elections in our state’s history,” Benson said in a statement Sunday.
Benson is far from the only elected official who has been targeted this year by protesters at their residences.
People displeased with the coronavirus restrictions put in place by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) gathered in front of her Lansing home in April. Protesters opposing police violence against Black men this summer targeted mayors at their homes in Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; Chicago; Seattle and St. Louis.
Armed protesters also flooded the Michigan Capitol in April to demand that legislators put an end to a stay-at-home order in the state. The state’s Republican lawmakers complied, but Whitmer extended restrictions with executive orders anyway.
Public officials, including Benson on Sunday, have largely defended the right to protest while opposing demonstrations that target elected leaders at their homes.
“A line is crossed when gatherings are done with the primary purpose of intimidation of public officials who are carrying out the oath of office they solemnly took,” Benson said.
But Benson also said Saturday’s protest wouldn’t lead her to abandon her responsibility to defend the election results.
“Through threats of violence, intimidation, and bullying, the armed people outside my home and their political allies seek to undermine and silence the will and voices of every voter in this state, no matter who they voted for,” Benson said. “But their efforts won’t carry the day.”
She called Michigan’s election results “unequivocal” and said she would defend the votes of 5.5 million Michigan citizens. With 2,804,040 votes, Biden won 50.62 percent of the vote in Michigan, surpassing Trump by more than 154,000 votes. The state’s results were certified on Nov. 23.
“The will of the people is clear,” she said. “And I will stand up every day in my job for all voters, even the votes of the protesters who banded together outside my home.”
Elizabeth Leiba, a co-host for The EdUp Experience Podcast, is a published writer who wrote for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper and served as the editor of The Seminole Tribune newspaper. She is an English professor at Broward College. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is a phrase we can all recite without even thinking about. It’s as synonymous with America as “Liberty and justice for all” or “Land of the free and home of the brave.”But scrolling through social media recently, I felt a pang of sadness at just how hollow those statements ring for Black people in America.Posts heralded as a “triumph” Kyle Rittenhouse’s release on bail. Rittenhouse is the teenager accused of shooting dead two men and injuring another at a Black Lives Matter protest march in Kenosha, Wisconsin, held after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August. The 17-year-old faces two felony charges of homicide and one misdemeanor charge for possessing a dangerous weapon while under 18. He is free after posting his $2 million bail with the help of donations, according to his lawyer in a tweet, including from celebrities like former “Silver Spoons” child star Ricky Schroder and Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, Inc. and vocal Donald Trump supporter. Rittenhouse’s attorney said that there is evidence that the teen acted in self-defense.The thought that enough people — after hearing details of the shooting — could see Rittenhouse, who is White, as innocent or justified enough in his actions to supply $2 million to get him released, made me think back to an experience I had in 1993: the moments that led up to my arrest as a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Florida, where I was on a full academic scholarship.I had entered an Eckerd drug store in Gainesville early on a Sunday morning to drop off film to develop pictures from my camera. My roommate was still sleeping, so I quietly slipped into a hoodie, jean shorts and sneakers, and left the dorm room, carrying my JanSport book bag with my rolls of film inside.That book bag would be at the center of my arrest and ultimately why I felt compelled to post about my encounter on LinkedIn recently. Seeing Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., tweet her disbelief over the supportive treatment Rittenhouse was getting and comparing it to Kalief Browder’s three years in Riker’s Island — two years of which were spent in solitary confinement — for allegedly stealing a book bag, triggered memories of my own encounter.Batteries inside my book bag had caused the theft detector to beep as I exited Eckerd’s that Sunday morning. The clerk called me back to ask if I’d purchased anything. I rifled through my book bag and found a four-pack of AA batteries I had purchased days earlier. I frantically attempted to resolve the misunderstanding. He asked if I had a receipt for them. I knew I did somewhere among my folder, papers and other receipts. I continued to rifle. I was even more frantic. My heart pounded as I scanned the contents of my bag. I knew the receipt was there.Minutes later, I was in a brightly lit office in the back of the store. The manager, an older White woman, slid an immaculate sheet of white paper, with tiny black text printed on it across her brown desk. I would need to sign it, she said. The small font blurred together, as I held it in shaking hands. I asked her to explain. I didn’t understand.What was it? An admission of guilt and a trespass warning. If I couldn’t produce the receipt for the batteries immediately, I would need to sign it right then and there, she said. But I wasn’t guilty, and I didn’t steal the batteries. So that would be a lie. I couldn’t do that. No.
As a journalism major with hopes of attending law school, my next line of defense to her became logic and reasoning: I attended the university. I was a student on scholarship. I came into this store all the time to shop. I had the receipt, if they could just give me a moment to look. I just needed to think for a minute. I know I kept it. I keep all receipts. I had been taught at a young age to never leave a store without ensuring I had a receipt for the items I had purchased — one of the many lessons Black children grow up having to learn. Just in case you were approached by a security guard, you always wanted to have proof of purchase. Could they look at the security footage? I had walked straight to the photo department without stopping to even browse. I wasn’t a thief.None of those arguments swayed her. She dialed 911 and two police officers arrived within minutes.Sitting in the back seat of a police car, the strangest thoughts went through my head: Handcuffs are heavier than they look on TV. If someone isn’t deemed a threat, their hands are cuffed in the front. There are no door handles on the inside of the back seat of a police car and the windows are tinted so you can see out, but no one can see your shame as you sit inside.I stared down at my cuffed wrists, hands in my lap, as the officers stood outside filling out the arrest report and chatting casually. They laughed at some inside joke. I was numb. This seemed like a dream.And I would carry that shame and disbelief for a while: The shame that people would think I was a thief. The shame that I had been arrested. The reality that I was seen as guilty before proven innocent.My mother picked me up from jail, making the five-hour drive from South Florida after posting my bond there. I was booked and placed in a holding cell for four hours and then I was allowed to wait in the lobby until she came to get me. When I got into her car in the jail parking lot, I rifled through the book bag again. Where was that receipt? I had to find it! I found it there neatly folded inside a bright red folder. I cried hysterically. It was there. It was there all along.We decided to talk to a lawyer about what could be done to get some semblance of justice. He was baffled. He had never seen a case where police were even called for a $2.49 item and suggested I pursue a lawsuit to ensure the store would never do it again. I wouldn’t get much, he cautioned. But it wasn’t about the money. It was about getting them to admit what they had done was wrong. It was about getting them to admit that the trauma I had experienced and the effect on the rest of my life was wrong. And the jury in the civil case ultimately agreed.But it would take three years for the case to go to trial and finally reach that settlement. Eckerd’s refused to accept responsibility for what they did and fought it every step of the way. Eckerd’s attorney at trial argued that the pharmacy had probable cause for their actions because the manager had checked the anti-theft equipment that day and the employees had no reason to believe it was malfunctioning.My lawyer produced a copy of the receipt for the state attorney’s office and the criminal charges had been dropped immediately.Get our free weekly newsletterAs these memories flood my mind, I can’t help but ask: How is it that the employees in that pharmacy couldn’t give me the benefit of the doubt over a $2.49 package of batteries, but Rittenhouse, who has been charged with killing two people, can be extended this courtesy?To be clear, I understand that this campaign to raise money for Rittenhouse was orchestrated specifically by people on the political right, and yes, the incidents happened in different times and places. I also know that people are free to donate to whatever cause they want.But we live in a country where Black people routinely see themselves being treated unfairly compared to their White counterparts. It’s a problem that we can’t and shouldn’t ignore. And it’s a problem that instantly causes Black people to collectively ask any time the Kyle Rittenhouses of the world come across our screens: “I wonder how this situation would have played out if he were Black?”
How is this legal? Hugs
Media Matters reports:
During the November 16 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, Jones told listeners “everyone must go to the capital of Georgia now and you must surround the governor’s mansion now.”
Jones said that he would also travel to Georgia where he would be joined by Roger Stone, who has urged Trump to take several draconian actions to stay in power, including imposing martial law.
Jones is also urging Trump to join him in Atlanta “and go into the governor’s mansion” to stop the election results from being certified. (Forming a blockade around the mansion would not actually stop the process because “the governor’s certification is a pro forma action to accept the secretary of state’s tally.”)
Read the full article.
Some supporters of President Donald Trump who recently harassed a Biden-Harris campaign bus in Texas allegedly organized the incident in a private Facebook page where QAnon references were shared widely. Neither Democratic candidate Joe Biden or running mate Kamala Harris were on the bus.
Fact-checking website Snopes states that the convoy of pickup trucks that were seen on video surrounding a Biden-Harris bus on Texas’ Interstate 35 was partly organized in a private Facebook page called “Alamo City Trump Train.” The report also notes that messages between the group’s members suggested that they were armed with guns.
According to Snopes, on October 30, one group member posted “#OperationBlockTheBus RN,” with “RN” referring to “right now.”
The post “was endorsed with 142 reactions, including likes, laughing emojis, or love hearts. “I LOVE IT!!!!,” said one commenter. “This is awesome,” said another. Other comments included: “Great job!,” “GOOD!,” “Love it,” “This is f***ing hilarious,” and “Awesome.”
Snopes notes that in its study of the private Facebook group, it found a number of posts and comments referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose followers believe that a cabal of ruling elites are part of a satanic cult involved with child sex trafficking.
One member shared a screenshot they believed to be from “Q”—the eponymous figure purportedly behind efforts to bring down the cabal—and others commented with the conspiracy theory’s slogan “WWG1WGA,” or “Where We Go One We Go All.”
According to Snopes, QAnon logos, signage and flags were also found throughout the Facebook page.
Snopes notes that on October 31, one day after the bus incident, a group member published a post questioning news articles that suggested those involved in the operation were armed, which was met by another group member responding with, “Yep we are armed and dangerous.”
“It’s Texas. Everyone is carrying!” another member commented.
“Cause it’s Texas and we don’t f*** around, we are always armed!!!” another comment read.
On October 30, several Trump supporters were seen on video surrounding a Biden-Harris campaign bus. On the same day, Biden’s campaign cancelled a joint event in Pflugerville with the Austin Young Democrats and Texas House Representative Sheryl Cole due to security reasons. It is not confirmed that the cancellation is related to the bus incident. The FBI has announced it is opening an investigation.
A video of the incident was shared by Trump on Twitter with a caption that read, “I LOVE TEXAS!”
In response to the FBI investigation, Trump posted another tweet that read, “In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong. Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!”
According to CBS News, the Biden campaign said in a statement that, “rather than engage in productive conversation about the drastically different visions that Joe Biden and Donald Trump have for our country, Trump supporters in Texas [yesterday] instead decided to put our staff, surrogates, supporters, and others in harm’s way.”