LANSING, Mich. — A chain link fence is now up around Michigan's State Capitol as police, FBI and members of the Michigan National Guard prepare for a weekend of planned protests.
Michigan State Police hosted a press conference Friday morning, along with several other local police and fire agencies, in an effort to tell the public they are ready for whatever happens.
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Armed militia members are planning to be at the State Capitol Sunday, ahead of President-Elect Joe Biden's innauguration. Some in West Michigan have expressed fears that we could see a repeat of the violence that happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“There is information that makes it difficult to identify the number of people that will be present on Sunday,” said MSP Director Col Joe Gaper Friday morning.
“We are prepared for the worst, but we remain hopeful that those who choose to demonstrate in our Capitol do so peacefully.”
In addition to the fence now up around the Capitol, the building was closed to the public Friday afternoon, and dozens of MSP troopers were patrolling the area.
Tim Waters, Special Agent in Charge at the FBI's Detroit office, said Friday, "Beginning today, and through the inauguration, the FBI will be at a heightened posture to be able to address and share threat information in real time with our local, state and federal partners."
While the agencies who spoke Friday shared little in terms of specific plans and preparations being made, they say they will have enough people on the ground to deal with any scale of protest.
Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green emphasized that there will be a safe space to protest for those coming without malicious intent.
“The Lansing Police Department practices constitutional policing. We believe firmly in your expression of your 1st amendment rights and your 2nd amendment rights. We just ask that you do it safely, and that you respect our city and respect our State Capitol,” Chief Green said.
As chatter about these sorts of protests move off of mainstream social media services, and sites like Parler are taken offline, the process of tracking organizers has become a significant challenge.
"Our focus is in identifying violent agitators and extremists who use the guise of 1st Amendment protected activity to incite violence and wreak havoc as we saw at the Capitol," Agent Waters said Friday.
Anyone with information about planned criminal activity at the State Capitol, or with information about Michigan residents involved in the Jan. 6 riot in Washington DC is asked to call the FBI at 1 (800) 225-5324.
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