Illinois governor JB Pritzker activated 250 National Guard troops Friday after the FBI warned of possible threats to state capitals that led to the presidential inauguration.
“Following the violent siege of the capital of our country and reports from federal law enforcement agencies about threats to the state capitals, I am using all resources to protect our residents and our democratic process,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Our exemplary members of the Illinois National Guard will work closely with our state police and local and federal agencies to keep our capital city safe. We will continue to be completely transparent to the public about new information and the steps we are taking to respond to it. “
The windows of the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield were boarded up Friday as authorities prepared for possible events.
“The Illinois Secretary of State Capitol’s police force, along with other law enforcement agencies, are fully aware of the potential demonstrations at the state capitols,” the Illinois Secretary of State’s office said in a statement. “Police at the Illinois Secretary of State Capitol remain vigilant to ensure that the Illinois Capitol Complex is safe.”
The department said it was “taking all measures available” to secure the Capitol complex and temporarily piling plywood over certain windows “out of caution”.
Earlier this week, the Illinois State Police said they were tracking “possible events at the Illinois Capitol Building this weekend” after the FBI warned law enforcement agencies across the country about possible armed protests in all 50 state capitals.
“The ISP remains vigilant in our mission to protect the safety of those involved in the democratic process, constitutional rights and public institutions,” the ISP said in a statement. “The ISP and local law enforcement agencies will have all the resources available to respond to threats identified by federal, state and local intelligence agencies.”
The FBI memo reported that protests could begin as early as Jan. 16, and said an armed group threatened to travel to Washington DC that same day and start a riot if Congress passed President Donald Trump under high-level law Law enforcement officer removed from office. The memo discusses possible threats raised by online actors on January 16 through the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20. But that doesn’t mean law enforcement in every state expect violent mass protests or confrontations, NBC News reported.
“As with recent operations, the Illinois State Police will work side by side with the Illinois National Guard and our local partners to carry out our mission to protect the democratic process,” ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly said in a statement. “The Illinois National Guard will not interfere with peaceful protesters exercising their first rights of amendment. The role of soldiers is to assist local authorities in enforcing road closures and established borders.”
Chicago officials have also announced security preparations and activated the city’s emergency response center for the president’s inauguration next week.
The Chicago Office of Emergency Management said the operations center will be activated Wednesday “to coordinate the city’s response to events related to the inauguration of the president as needed.”
“OEMC, along with the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and the city’s infrastructure departments, stands ready to take protective measures and will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis,” OEMC said in a statement. “All adjustments are made as needed.”
Currently, officials said they were unaware of “planned actionable activities in Chicago”.
“We anticipate the city of Chicago will remain peaceful. However, OEMC stands ready to mobilize assets to keep residents, neighborhood business corridors and critical businesses safe in the event of an incident,” OEMC said.
The department asked residents to call 911 and report suspicious activity.
Earlier this week, Pritzker also activated approximately 200 members of the Illinois National Guard to assist with the president’s inauguration in Washington next week. On Friday he activated 100 more.