WASHINGTON — The atmosphere was tense in the nation’s capital and at statehouses across the country on Sunday, where military vehicles and police barricades lined the streets and officials braced for the possible influx of pro-Trump protests amid concerns about potential violence.
In Washington, the crowds were sparse by midday, but law enforcement and National Guard troops remained on high alert, hoping to head off any repeat of the riot less than two weeks ago, when President Trump’s supporters breached the nation’s Capitol. At least 19 states deployed National Guard troops to their capitols, and several shut down statehouse grounds and delayed legislative sessions in response to F.B.I. warnings that white supremacists and right-wing extremists could target capital cities across the country.
People posting on right-wing websites and social media have called for supporters to march on Washington and all 50 state capitols on Sunday, with plans in Washington for a march to end at the White House. In recent days, however, as officials have strengthened precautions, some online agitators began to discourage people from turning out, making it unclear what to expect.
In Washington, concerns mounted over the weekend ahead of the presidential inauguration on Wednesday. A militarized “green zone” grew downtown, as streets were blocked by concrete barricades and military vehicles, and dozens more soldiers arrived in a large black and orange bus. Pentagon officials said that 15,000 National Guard members from all 50 states and 3 territories had arrived in Washington by Saturday, and that as many as 25,000 could arrive by Wednesday.
Federal officials are vetting hundreds of possible airplane passengers, putting any who have been identified among the violent protesters at the Capitol on Jan. 6 on a “no fly list.” The Transportation Security Administration added federal marshals on flights and explosive-detection dogs at airports. And F.B.I. agents have been working to find people who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 and are also seeking to interview people already under investigation in connection with other domestic terrorism cases to stamp out potential threats, officials said.
In Virginia, the site of a rally a year ago on Martin Luther King’s Birthday that drew thousands of gun-rights protesters to Richmond and prompted concerns about violent extremism, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a warning: “If you’re planning to come here or up to Washington with ill intent in your heart, you need to turn around right now and go home.”
Protests are expected on Sunday and Wednesday in Michigan, where armed and angry demonstrators crowded into the State Capitol in April to protest coronavirus lockdown orders, raising fears that the protests could turn violent this week. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has activated the Michigan National Guard, and a six-foot fence has been erected around the Statehouse in Lansing, where windows of state office buildings have been boarded up.
The State Legislature has canceled several sessions scheduled for this week after “credible threats” were received by Michigan State Police.
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California authorized the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops and had the State Capitol grounds in Sacramento surrounded with a chain-link fence.
“There will be no tolerance for violence,” Mr. Newsom said last week, referring to the attack on the nation’s Capitol. “California will take every necessary measure to protect public safely and our democratic principles, and to ensure that those disgraceful actions are not repeated here.”
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