Last week, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) led a letter with 30 other Members of Congress to FBI Director Christopher Wray inquiring about the Bureau’s plans to train, support, and advise state and local law enforcement as they face domestic threats to their state capitols, public officials, and government buildings. The FBI confirmed threats of armed protests in all 50 states in the days leading up to President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Police in Connecticut erected barriers and increased patrols at the state Capitol to prepare for this threat. Governor Lamont said that state police were also working with regional and national partners to monitor social media for additional threats. While this is a first step, it is imperative that federal authorities ensure these serious threats and others like them are taken seriously and appropriately planned for in the coming weeks.
“The unprecedented attack on the Capitol building has shaken our national conscience and confidence in the country’s ability to combat domestic terror and violent extremism. In the wake of the clear failure of preparation in advance of the events of January 6th, it is imperative the FBI and other federal law enforcement provide the proper resources to state and local police departments as they face heightened domestic and extremist threats,” said Congresswoman Hayes.
“I look forward to hearing from the Bureau on their plans to provide training, guidance, and resources to states and municipalities as they protect our communities from these short and long-term threats.”
Members who signed onto the letter are as follows: Cindy Axne (IA-03), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Ed Case (HI-01), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Jim Cooper (TN-05), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Bill Foster (IL-11), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Jim Himes (CT-04), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), John B. Larson (CT-01), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Grace Meng (NY-06), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Bill Pascrell (NJ-08), Raul Ruiz (CA-36), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Jan Schakowsky(IL-09), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Darren Soto (FL-09), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), and Nikema Williams (GA-05).
Text of the letter can be found below.:
Dear Director Wray,
We write to urgently request information on how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intends to coordinate with local law enforcement to protect state capitals, municipal buildings, and other government facilities in the wake of the violent January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. This unprecedented attack on our nation’s Capitol building has shaken our national conscience and shaken confidence in the country’s ability to combat domestic terror and violent extremism. It has also raised serious concerns and questions on how federal law enforcement plans to assist state and local forces to mitigate any potential threats in the coming weeks, and to protect all federal facilities, elected officials, and Americans across the country from harm.
The events of January 6th have made it clear that extensive planning, coordination, and resources are vital to protect our democratic institutions from domestic terrorist threats and actions. It was evident once the violent mob descended on the Capitol that United States Capitol Police (USCP) did not have the requisite manpower or ability to defend the building from invasion, or to protect the thousands of lawmakers, staff, and workers inside. The soft physical perimeters surrounding the building were insufficient, and assistance or backup for USCP from regional law enforcement and defense partners was either not requested or not approved in time. As more evidence emerges, it has become clear the insurrectionists that stormed the Capitol were coordinated, prepared, and ready to inflict terror and violence. They were successful in doing so – dozens of law enforcement officers were injured from hand-to-hand combat with these attackers, and two officers later died.
While extremist threats existed long before the attack on the Capitol, the devastating events of that day are already serving to embolden agitators and recruit new members of this violent movement. It is crucial that mistakes made on the Capitol grounds - which ultimately endangered the lives of Members of Congress, Capitol staff, law enforcement and D.C. residents – are not replicated across the country. The chilling lessons of this day thus serve as a blueprint to combat potential future acts of terror – including copycat efforts and threats by these same violent extremist groups to perpetuate violence or complete a “second attack” on January 17, 2021 or Inauguration Day.
Demonstrations are expected to continue and culminate with a “Million Militia March” on January 20, 2021, where organizers are now calling for armed marches on all state capitals. Federal law enforcement agencies have received repeated confirmations that there is an imminent violent threat to state and local government buildings. According to an FBI bulletin obtained by the media, the Bureau has received information on a group calling for “storming” state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings in every state on Inauguration Day and in the event President Trump is removed from office via impeachment or the 25th Amendment. Advertisements for these events began in November 2020, when members of the “boogaloo boys” movement — a loose network of anti-government groups who believe the country is heading toward a civil war — began to organize protest action at state capitals. The grave implications of this intelligence can not be underestimated. Just like the January 6th attack, the planning for violence is happening through online chatter on social media platforms right in front of our eyes.
Violent provocateurs have already begun to act on these threats. The following events have occurred on or after January 6th:
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee ordered extra security after an armed crowd of Trump supporters breached the fence at the governor’s mansion while he was at home..
- On the same day the violent mob attacked Congress, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s 14-year-old son was evacuated from the governor’s mansion after a group of armed protesters promised “casualties,” and threatened kidnapping in speeches before marching to the residence.
- In Oregon, demonstrators burned an effigy of Gov. Kate Brown (D).
- The home of Kentucky’s public health commissioner was vandalized by spray-painting “Covid is PCR fraud” on his mailbox.
- In Idaho, Ammon Bundy - an antigovernment activist who once led his supporters in the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon – protested outside the statehouse in Boise with members of his organization carrying “wanted” posters for Gov. Brad Little and others on charges of “treason” and “sedition.”
State Police around the country have already started to secure perimeters around state capitol buildings, increase law enforcement presence and patrols, and erect physical barriers to defend against building breach. While this is a first step, we need to ensure that these serious terrorist threats and others like them are taken seriously and appropriately planned for in the coming weeks.
It is essential that the FBI execute a long-term strategy to support state and local law enforcement in response to domestic extremist threat. We therefore request the FBI respond immediately to the following questions to ensure proper coordination between federal and local law enforcement is taking place:
- Does the FBI provide training to state and local law enforcement agencies regarding identification and response to domestic terror threats?
- Does the FBI intend to supplement or adjust any current training guidelines in response to the oversights of January 6, 2021?
- Does the FBI intend to provide uniform guidance to state and local law enforcement regarding best practices on securing perimeters outside federal buildings or policies regarding staffing to help local authorities protect and defend these facilities?
- What supplemental assistance does the FBI intend to provide state and local law enforcement as they prepare to potentially defend their state capitals?
- Does the FBI intend to assist state and local law enforcement in hardening their physical barriers and defenses?
- Does the FBI currently have the resources and capacity to continue supporting state and local law enforcement should this threat persist beyond Inauguration Day? If not, what supplemental appropriations or resources does it need?
- Has the FBI provided updated protocols for intelligence gathering to state and local law enforcement following the expulsion of extremist groups from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and the removal of Parler from app stores where extremists previously organized?
We thank you for your commitment to the protection of our nation and the American people, and look forward to receiving your response to these urgent inquiries as soon as possible.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.