The Department of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service (FPS) downplayed the threat of violence on Jan. 6 in statements prepared the day before the insurrection, according to emails obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
FPS highlighted restaurant and store closures in the downtown DC area and noted the fact that multiple hotels had sold out in advance of the rallies. The agency also identified dozens of different protests and rallies planned for January 6th and the number of attendees committed on Facebook.
One rally was called “Election Fraud and Electoral College Protest (Eat Pray Kill).” Other rallies explicitly referenced plans to “March on Congress” to “stop the steal,” and had around 1,000 committed attendees.
On January 5th, after apparently referencing three public news reports about the Proud Boys and street closures in DC, FPS prepared a statement downplaying the threat to federal buildings and saying that their “first goal is always to protect the first amendment rights of demonstrators so that they remain safe and federal operations can continue unfettered.”
However, CREW reported that despite FPS’s public downplaying of the risks of Jan. 6, the agency “issued an internal Information Bulletin on January 5 noting that ‘domestic extremists…will likely participate in First Amendment protected activities and use the activities as an opportunity to…motivate followers to promote violence.’ ”
In addition, the bulletin was shared only with federal agencies, while the Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police were left out of the loop. The media was excluded as well.
CREW reported that the emails also show the agency’s reaction to the insurrection in real time.
While the Capitol is protected primarily by Capitol Police, it is hard to imagine FPS would be so glib as to downplay the threat to federal buildings if the agency had reason to believe a federal building could be attacked. As they provide a second line of protection for the Capitol, and did that day, one has to imagine they did not see a serious threat brewing.
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