Security tightened around NY Capitol for potential protests

Regional News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State Police has increased security at the New York State Capitol amid reports of possible protests across the nation leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

NYSP said they have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement. They said there is currently no active or credible threat involving the Capitol in downtown Albany.

“The New York State Police is aware of reports regarding possible protests ahead of the inauguration. We have been in touch with our federal and local law enforcement partners and will be monitoring the situation. Given recent events in Washington and across the country, the New York State Police has, out of an abundance of caution, taken steps to harden security in and around the State Capitol in Albany. These restrictions are in place until further notice.”

William Duffy, New York State Police Spokesperson

The increased security comes after an internal FBI bulletin warned nationwide protests may start later in the week and go until Biden’s inauguration on January 20. Officials said some of the protesters are members of extremist groups.

“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

NEWS10 ABC reached out to local FBI field offices for a comment on the bulletin that was first obtained by ABC News. They sent the following statements:

“While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products,  the FBI is supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve. Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity. As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats   and are sharing that information with our partners.  The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property.”

Sarah C. Ruane, FBI Public Affairs Specialist, Albany Field Office

The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is dual and simultaneous, not contradictory. Accordingly, we are committed to investigating violent behavior and those who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law. 

 At this point in time, the FBI Boston Division is not in possession of any intelligence indicating any planned, armed protests at the four state capitals in our area of responsibility. (ME, MA, NH, and RI) from January 17-20, 2021.

 As always, we are in constant communication with our law enforcement partners and will share any actionable intelligence.

Kristen M. Setera, FBI Boston Division (ME, MA, NH & RI) | Office of Public Affairs

Law enforcement officials said extremists plan to descend on Washington, D.C. to protest the inauguration. This comes after supporters of Pres. Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6 while Congress met to ratify Biden’s Electoral College win.

Lawmakers were rushed out of their chambers and taken to hide in the Capitol while rioters broke into the building, injured Capitol Police Officers, and vandalized lawmakers’ offices. As a result of the riot, multiple people died, and several arrests have been made. Investigations into the siege of the Capitol remain ongoing.

The day after the riot in Washington, NYSP implemented security measures at the NY Capitol, including closing some entrances in and out of the building and closing a part of road outside the Capitol. Cement barricades had been installed to prevent anyone from driving through. They remained in place as of Monday.

Law enforcement had previously been called to a stabbing Wednesday afternoon outside of the state Capitol building in East Capitol Park during a pro-Trump rally. Police said two of the pro-Trump demonstrators were stabbed during the fight by a counter protester.

Five people were arrested, and a trooper sustained a minor injury in the altercation.

While state police have jurisdiction over the Capitol, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said the city is working with “federal and state intelligence and law enforcement partners to monitor any threats of violence and ensure we are fully prepared to keep our city safe.”

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