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KC experts explain FBI warning of 'armed protests' at state capitols

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 23:46:25-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas and Missouri law enforcement officials are aware of the potential for “armed protests,” following a memo sent Monday by the FBI.

The memo warned that demonstrations at all 50 state capitols and in Washington, D.C., might start later this week and continue through the inauguration. An armed group also threatened to “storm” state, local and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings if Congress removes President Donald Trump from office, the memo said.

“My guess would be that they don’t have specific information that says every state is going to be targeted," said Michael Tabman, a retired FBI special agent in charge. "What they probably have is enough information that says some state capitols will probably be targeted, but we can’t say who they are. We may know of one or two, but that doesn’t exclude anyone else."

Tabman said he has not seen Monday’s FBI memo, but agents likely gathered intel through informants, online posts and confessions of those arrested for their role in Wednesday’s deadly U.S. Capitol riot.

“This is going to be intelligence driven,” he said. “Agents will start looking at their sources, their human sources, to find out who knows what. (The FBI) will look for ways to introduce undercover agents into their ranks.”

Lt. Terry Golightley, of the Kansas Highway Patrol, told 41 Action News that KHP is aware of the potential for an armed protest.

“I have not seen any formal planning or permits being obtained at this time,” he said, referring to the capitol in Topeka.

Retired KCPD Major John Hamilton, who now teaches criminal justice at Park University, told 41 Action News Monday’s memo will be helpful in preparing smaller law enforcement agencies.

“Some of the larger agencies will already have some of this information," Hamilton said. "They do a lot of social media scanning and other things. Smaller agencies don’t and they may not have the personnel or ability to do that, so this information for a smaller agency will be helpful to them.”

In a statement to 41 Action News, a spokesperson with the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department said the department is monitoring all intelligence regarding protests “as we always do.”

Kansas City is home to several government buildings, including the federal courthouse.

“When you looked at a lot of the people who went up for the rally last week, many said they had driven up, some took buses, some flew,” Hamilton said. “There were a lot of people that couldn’t get off of work or couldn’t afford to do that. And if (they) can’t go to Washington, D.C., maybe can’t go to Jefferson City, (they) could go to (their) county.”