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FBI: No specific threats in Phoenix ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration

arizona state capitol AP
Posted at 2:18 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 22:04:19-05

PHOENIX — The FBI's Phoenix Field Office said Thursday that it has "not received any specific and substantiated threat to the Arizona state Capitol or other government buildings in our area" ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

"However, we are working together with our law enforcement partners to continuously share information based on tips submitted by the public," the FBI said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the FBI reportedly sent a memo to law enforcement agencies in all 50 states warning that armed protests were being planned at state capitols and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., between Jan. 16 and Inauguration Day.

Law enforcement across the country have been on alert since Wednesday, Jan. 6, when mostly pro-Donald Trump supporters converged on the U.S. Capitol, attacked police officers, broke into the Capitol building and damaged windows and doors, among other things, in protest of Congress' duty to certify the 2020 Election results. Five people died, including a woman who was shot by a Capitol police officer, and a Capitol police officer who was injured during the riot.

As a result, the U.S. House of Representatives charged President Trump with inciting an insurrection and voted to impeach him, becoming the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. A trial still has to be held in the U.S. Senate, which Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said would likely be held after Trump leaves office.

"The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our focus is not on peaceful protesters, but on those threatening their safety and the safety of other citizens with violence and destruction of property," the FBI said.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force's executive board met Thursday. There is also a local FBI task force that comprises of police departments, sheriff's departments, and the state and county attorney's offices.

After last Wednesday's riot, fencing and barriers were installed around the Arizona State Capitol complex in downtown Phoenix. More fencing is expected to be installed around the Arizona Supreme Court and Maricopa County Superior Court.

"I think the risk right now is so diverse and so widespread geographically but also all (of) the potential targets, that it’s a real challenge," said Professor. Melanie Gall, co-director of ASU's Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

The FBI has asked anyone with information about a potential threat or protest to contact the Phoenix Field Office at 623-466-1999 or via its website, tips.fbi.gov. For an immediate emergency, people should call 911.