The next big date in the insurrection could be Sunday.
Extremists following President Trump’s call to overturn the results of the 2020 election have been calling to storm government buildings around the country on Jan. 17, in a bid for showy, potentially violent anti-government demonstrations.
Twitter cited conversations around a “proposed secondary attack” on the 17th as a reason for banning President Trump from the platform, while TPM has identified fliers and posts on far-right websites agitating for “armed march on Capitol Hill and all state capitols.” On Monday, the FBI issued a bulletin warning that an extremist group was planning an assault on capitol buildings in all 50 states on the 17th and for the weeks ahead.
“Mostly we’re using it as a recruitment opportunity,” one New Hampshire “Boogaloo” adherent told TPM. “There’s a lot of Trumpers who are disenfranchised, who are going to be wanting to look to be able to do something.”
It remains unclear the extent to which the calls for armed protest and “storming” of state legislatures on Jan. 17 will materialize. Promoters are promising rallies and “storming” around the country, a claim that manages to aggrandize the organizers while stoking the possibility that real violence could occur in any of the 50 states targeted.
Oren Segal, vice president of the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM that the event had been planned for weeks, before going viral after the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt.
“If you’re posting these fliers in spaces where extremists are spending a lot of time, it’s not unreasonable that people will organize their friends to show up. It’s a bit unknown, but it’s not as organized as what we saw on Jan. 6,” Segal said.
“But if the past is any indication, oftentimes these things can accelerate quickly as we get closer to the event, even though right now we may not see massive plans of action,” he continued.
The planned events began as a series of gun rights demonstrations, but the Capitol siege last week broadened the audience, said Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“You have a lot of people who are looking to get involved” and are within driving distance of their own state’s capital, Miller said.
In addition to self-identified radicals like white nationalists, Miller said, she expected to see “Trump supporters, who are now being further radicalized, and further convinced that our institutions need to be dismantled, and in some cases that democracy itself needs to be subverted.”
The demonstrations are in part a product of the gun-obsessed Boogaloo movement, the name of which comes from internet slang for a sequel to the American Revolution or Civil War. Many adherents are members of the military or veterans.
Boogaloo’ers were among the crowd bum-rushing the Capitol on Jan. 6 as part of a bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Many of them have now spread out to where they live across the country, stoking concerns that the group will mount similar attacks on less-defended state legislatures around the country.
That would come after extremist groups supporting — and egged on by — President Trump stormed the national legislature and have invaded state capitols around the country.
“As D.C. locks down and post-siege becomes a more difficult place for extremists to feel comfortable, it’s highly likely that they’re going to turn their attention to state capitols,” Segal said. “Places that are closer to home, places where we’ve seen other protests throughout the year; the boogaloo and extremism movement in this country doesn’t need to be in D.C.”
“The danger, I think, is going to be more at the state level, at those capitol buildings,” said Daryl Johnson, a former domestic terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security.
Federal law enforcement has been aware of the potential threat at least since December. A Dec. 29 FBI bulletin obtained by Yahoo News describes Boogaloo as “a militant anti-government movement” seeking to “take” multiple state capitol buildings with improvised heavy weaponry.
In a bulletin issued on Monday, federal law enforcement warned that a group was planning on “storming” state capitols around the country on Jan. 17 if President Trump is prematurely removed from office. In case of his scheduled departure on Jan. 20, the group would also storm government buildings around the country.
But unlike on Jan. 6, evidence suggests that federal law enforcement is taking at least some steps to coordinate and prepare for what might be coming.
Mike Sena, head of the National Fusion Center Association, a group that helps facilitate law enforcement intelligence sharing, told TPM that while there were no “intelligence products” before Jan. 6, “there’s been a lot more verbal communication” in anticipation of next week.
“I’m sure that there will be a lot more resources on the ground,” Sena said.