TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)—FBI officials sent out a memo to law enforcement agencies nationwide asking them to prepare for possible armed protests at all 50 state capitols.
Officials suspect protests could begin starting Jan. 16 through the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
Officials became aware of social media posts and asked local agencies to heighten their security protocols.
In a statement released on Monday, FBI officials said the following:
“While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve. Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity. 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. 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.”
Indiana State Police is coordinating with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to prepare for protests at the Indiana Statehouse.
Sgt. Matt Ames, Public Information Officer for Indiana State Police, said they’ll be prepared should a situation arise.
“We’ll continue to monitor those social media posts. We can’t discuss any security protocols, but the security of the statehouse will be of the utmost as well as the adjoining campuses in the statehouse area,” he said.
Vigo County Sheriff’s Office is also on high alert.
Vigo County Sheriff, John Plasse, said most local protests have remained peaceful but his office has a plan in place.
“We always look out for things like that for anniversary dates and certain events but we can’t be off guard. We still have to prepare. I always say prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Sheriff Plasse said.
Plasse said when danger becomes an issue, authorities are ready to take over.
“Everyone has those first amendment rights and to protest whatever they may. We’ll support that and make sure they do that in a safe manner,” he said. “But once you start breaking the law, the first amendment goes away and other things take over.”