A large contingent of US security forces took to the streets of Washington on Sunday (17) as they prepared for protests that have so far drawn a small number of Donald Trump supporters who believe the accusations Republican baseless that the presidential elections were rigged.
Several US states have deployed National Guard troops to increase the protection of their official buildings. The reinforcement movement came in response to the alert launched by the FBI (US Federal Police) on the risk of armed demonstrations by extremist groups encouraged by the attack on the US Congress on 6.
The security measures are a precautionary measure so that the acts that shocked the world during the invasion of Capitol Hill as members of Congress gathered to certify Joe Biden’s victory do not happen again, even in many cases. smaller proportions, in the days leading up to the Democratic inauguration, scheduled for next Wednesday (20).
This Sunday was one of the main points of attention of the security authorities because it was the date chosen weeks ago for demonstrations in all 50 states organized by the boogaloo movement, a far-right militia that prepares for a so-called Second American Civil War.
There was also a special state of alert in state capitals where the dispute between Trump and President-elect Joe Biden was fiercer, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. During the day, however, the number of demonstrators who took to the streets in these towns was easily exceeded by the number of security force agents and even media professionals.
“Nothing is happening,” one of the few Trump supporters who appeared before the state assembly in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, told Reuters news agency.
Alex, 34, declined to reveal his last name and said he was in Washington on the day of the Capitol attack, but did not actually enter the building. At Sunday’s deflated protest, he wore a sweatshirt with the words “Fraud 2020” echoing Trump’s factual rhetoric.
In Lansing, Michigan’s capital, authorities have closed streets and many buildings have covered their windows with wooden panels for fear of violence. Despite the concern, only a small group of people gathered outside the seat of the local legislature. Some members carried guns and wore military vests and shirts with Hawaiian prints, one of the trademarks of the Boogaloo movement.
There was also a member with a banner that read “don’t tread on me”, the motto on the Gadsden flag, a symbol that refers to the American War of Independence and today it is increasingly associated with ultraconservatism.
In Atlanta, Georgia, hundreds of police and National Guard soldiers surrounded the state legislature building. Barbed wire and concrete barriers were also erected to protect the site of the local assembly while armored vehicles were positioned nearby.
Officials in states like Texas and Kentucky have gone further and completely shut down public access to their respective legislative buildings, in response to alerts issued by the FBI and other federal agencies.
In the face of fears that militias and armed extremist groups would once again resort to violence to exploit the frustration of those who believe Trump’s defeat was the result of widespread fraud, thousands of National Guard operatives have deployed to Washington before Biden’s inauguration.
This Sunday, the center of the American capital has become a ghost town. In the streets, police and soldiers were seen with guns fired at strategic points and large military vehicles positioned to block traffic.
It is not yet clear whether security reinforcements will completely inhibit pro-Trump protests, but some extremist group leaders have told their supporters to stay home, alleging the risk that the troop presence may have been planned as a trap to stop them. .
“We need to be concerned about our own communities,” Pennsylvania Light Foot militia leader Bob Gardner told Reuters, justifying his absence from the protests. “We are not involved in politics.”