WEST MICHIGAN — Federal authorities are concerned about the potential for extremist violence this holiday and in the summer months.
There have been no specific threats identified, but with the easing of COVID restrictions in a ton of states as well as a rise in extremist chatter over the past months, experts are urging people to be vigilant this weekend.
A new bulletin from the department of homeland security says extremists have continued to advocate for violence online and plan attacks. The same kind of advocacy was seen on social media ahead of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.
Experts also believe terrorists may try and exploit the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, which will allow mass gatherings of people in a number of states this weekend.
Michael McDaniel, a former pentagon official is now a professor at Western Michigan University's Cooley law school, spoke with Fox 17 and said both foreign and domestic issues could be the reason for signaling concern.
"There's a rise in encrypted chat from from a number of these organizations," McDaniel said. "And so...it may be a prophylactic warning. And maybe we're just saying this because we got to use the most care. And it may be that there's just a confluence of too many background indicators, and based upon background reactions, to events, both foreign and domestic, that are that's causing the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to say we need to be much more careful, much more alert than we have been."
McDaniel also said that this doesn't mean you should avoid celebrating over the holiday weekend. McDaniel advises Michiganders to still enjoy the Summer Months, but also asks people to be aware of their surroundings.
"If there had been some immediacy of threats against sections of people or infrastructure in United States, we would have had more details," McDaniel said. "This was just that sort of general warning to, you know, the 18,000 law enforcement agencies we have in the United State. As I said, this confluence of events, that could lead to factors you get a long holiday, it could be nothing more than having a...long holiday weekend, and people drinking too much and having another mass shooting."
If you see something suspicious, don't hesitate to reach out to local or federal law enforcement.