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Whitmer: Police monitoring ‘chatter’ about Capitol violence



There has been no specific threat of violence in the Michigan Capitol this weekend but law enforcement continues to monitor “chatter” after the FBI warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday.

The state police has increased its visible presence at the Capitol this week following a deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. A 6-foot fence will be installed around the statehouse on Friday, according to the Michigan State Capitol Commission.

“There is a lot of chatter that is being monitored both by our federal partners and by our state resources,” the governor said. “As for a specific threat, there is not any to my knowledge. But we can see that conversation nationally is focused on” Sunday.

That is three days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Any threats “will not be taken lightly,” said Whitmer, a Democrat who was the target of a foiled kidnapping plot in the fall. Some of the men who were charged had openly carried guns at anti-coronavirus lockdown protests at the Capitol last spring.

State police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said the agency was aware of widespread online promotion encouraging marches at state Capitols on Sunday and Jan. 20, which is Inauguration Day.

“We’re committed to doing everything within our power to make the Capitol and surrounding area as safe as possible,” she said. “The Michigan State Police has significant experience with large-scale protests. Demonstrations are a common occurrence at the Capitol and the majority of them, through pre-planning and preparedness, are peaceful events.”

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has asked the governor to activate the Michigan National Guard to provide additional security and crowd control. Whitmer said the state police was coordinating with the National Guard and local law enforcement, but she did not say if she would activate the National Guard.

The state attorney general’s office last week charged a man for making a bomb threat that closed the Capitol. The same man was charged in connection with a phone call threatening the life of a state legislator in December.