As more and more of the armed pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol building on January 6 get caught, far-right gatherings online have either been shuttered or are “sputtering” under the weight of new members.
In addition, thousands of National Guard troops are being brought to D.C. to protect the nation’s capital.
With that as the background for the inauguration on January 20, leaders of far-right, extremist groups are telling their supporters to stay away from protests planned at state capitals and in D.C.
Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, says “We’re going to take a chill pill. I feel like this part of the battle is over.” Other prominent extreme right wing figures, many of whom were involved in bringing large crowds to the violent events on Jan. 6, shared similar messages encouraging people to stay away.
Far-right Podcaster Nicholas Fuentes tweeted the following: “Of course this should go without saying but steer clear of the Capital on January 20th. They are deploying 25,000 soldiers for the inauguration and the state of emergency will still be in effect. I’m not going and I won’t be returning to DC for a long, long time!”
Experts on extremist group behavior agree that with much of their online chatter silenced, many of the people originally planning to protest Joe Biden’s inauguration will stay home this time. They warn, however, that this doesn’t mean there is not still the potential for some violence.
Some worry about those extremists who are not members of any group like the Proud Boys, while others warn that while the threat in D.C. is lower due to the presence of the National Guard, state capitals are more vulnerable.
The FBI warned earlier this week that with protests are planned in all 50 states, those capitols could prove softer targets for domestic terrorists, armed paramilitary groups, and/or large crowds of those angry over an election “stolen” from Donald Trump.
DHS analyst Daryl Johnson said: “Nothing’s going to happen in D.C., but I worry about state capitals. They should be beefing up security.”
Eduard Florea, a member of white-supremacy group Proud Boys, is in FBI custody for possibly being involved in a plot threatening more violence at the U.S. capitol.
His case is one of many across the country, including some who already participated in last week’s deadly riot, as the FBI monitors online talk and activity of extremist groups.
The NYPD told the local New York CBS affiliate that Florea has been on the department’s radar before and is now accused of making threats online about the Democratic lawmakers and the Capitol.
An exclusive photo shows the 40-year-old Florea being arrested by the FBI in front of his Middle Village, Queens home. Neighbors told reporters that Florea went peacefully into an armored vehicle.
“They got him. They put him up against the car and they marched him over.”
Florea has been charged with being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition as the FBI found more than 1,000 rounds of rifle ammunition, two dozen shotgun rounds, about 75 military style combat knives, hatchets and swords in his possession. In 2014, he was convicted of illegal weapons possesion. Florea told the FBI that he’s a supporter of the Proud Boys.
A Brooklyn federal court judge denied Florea bail, referening several online posts Florea made about Capitol riot, claiming it “reflects a premeditated plan to exact violence against people in New York and people in Washington against United States senators.”
On January. 6, the day of the Capitol violence, he posted: “I will be reaching out to patriots… so we can come up with a game plan. Here in New York we are target rich… got a bunch of guys all armed and ready to deploy.”
Florea’s neighbor Larry Gianbalvo told reporters: “They took him out, his wife, two children and we saw weapons come out and some laptops. I’m not a weapons expert. They weren’t small. They were fairly big.”