PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An internal FBI bulletin reportedly warned of armed protests being planned at all 50 state capitols next week, but the agency’s Boston office tells Target 12 they don’t currently have any evidence of such events being planned locally.
“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,” FBI Boston spokesperson Kristen Setera said.
“As always, we are in constant communication with our law enforcement partners and will share any actionable intelligence,” she continued.
The protests would coincide with the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 and follow last week’s violent riot that erupted at the U.S. Capitol when Congress worked to certify his victory in the election.
When asked about the FBI bulletin on Monday, R.I. State Police Col. James Manni declined to divulge any information.
“The Rhode Island State Police respectfully declines to comment on any security preparations at the this time,” Manni said in a statement.
Massachusetts State Police released its own statement saying they were aware of “general statements that have been made online regarding potential protest activity,” but unaware of any specific threats.
“We are in contact with the FBI continue to share information through our Fusion Center with federal, state, and local partners,” Mass. State Police said. “We will continue to monitor all available intelligence over the coming days, will be prepared for any contingencies, and will adjust our security operations accordingly.”
Mass. State Police also assured they are “prepared to protect the rights of freedom of assembly” as long as it’s done safely and within the law, echoing a sentiment shared by the FBI Boston office.
“The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights,” Setera said. “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.”
Eli Sherman contributed to this story.