New Jersey Homeland Security is asking individuals to report any threats seen or heard as state capitals around the country are on high alert for potential protests and unrest leading up to Inauguration Day.
Local and federal law enforcement agencies are trying to prevent attacks like the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The police chief for Washington D.C. has increased the number of National Guard troops protecting the nation's capital to 20,000 members, many of whom are from the tri-state. The NYPD was also sending officers.
There have been threats of armed protests throughout the U.S. to take place over the weekend and leading up to the inauguration, targeting state capitals — including the statehouse in Trenton. New Jersey Homeland Security Director Jared Maples said that they were taking "proactive steps to halt possible attempts at violence" ahead of the calls for the march on Jan. 17.
"There is a very real concern out there that violence could pop up, so we're all doing everything we can to coordinate those areas ... certainly in New Jersey," Maples said, adding that the "extremist threat endures."
Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday said the situation "continues to be a general threat, but not a specific threat." But the governor, alongside NJSP Superintendent Pat Callahan, reassured that local and federal agencies are prepared "for the worst" should problems arise.
Callahan and Maples both said there is no specific threat to the statehouse in Trenton, but added officials want to be prepared in case something happens. Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora said that police have been asked "to be all hands on deck, we're taking as many precautions as possible."
"We're really not seeing any real intelligence or actual threats as it related to New Jersey," said FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge George Crouch Jr.
New Jersey's state offices will turn remote on Wednesday, Jan. 20 -- Murphy made the announcement in the final moments of his briefing. We "felt that that was the right thing to do given the level of tension," the governor said. Callahan also said that because of the pandemic, most state workers are working remotely anyway.
New Jersey has activated approximately 100 additional National Guard soldiers to provide additional security at the capitol, NBC New York has learned. The activated unit is out of the 113th Infantry headquartered in Riverdale. There were also added police in the area, in addition to mounted units — visibly sending a message to potential rioters.
The added support comes as some merchants — as far as a mile from the capitol — have already begun boarding up storefronts on State Street which runs from the federal courthouse approximately one mile to the state capitol complex. First floor windows of the federal courthouse there were also boarded up, after word spread that those buildings could be targeted across the county.
It's not just Trenton that has been increasing their security ahead of the inauguration. In Albany, barricades lined State Street starting Friday, and officers could be seen patrolling the area with long guns. Extra police were called in to help with the security, and the mayor there similarly said that those who work in the downtown area should plan on working remotely through Inauguration Day.
"Anyone who comes to the capital, with the intention of causing violence or damage to public property, will be arrested. We have zero tolerance for anyone who incites or causes any violence," said Major Chris West, of the New York State Police.
Authorities are also keeping an eye out for the potential for explosive devices that pose a risk, with Sunday and Wednesday being called "hot days" where risk for unlawful and violent behavior is greatest.
Police in Hartford, Connecticut, were working with the FBI to up security, as metal fencing was built along the perimeter of the capitol building. All signs that show no area are taking any chances, even though there haven't been any credible threats to the tri-state.
The National Mall there will be closed to the public in D.C. Inside the Capitol Building, many members of the National Guard were staying overnight — a show of force that comes on the heels of an attempted insurrection.
"Certainly this time last year, we didn't expect to be in this situation — even last week we didn't expect to be starting this early," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Earlier in the week, the FBI sent a memo to law enforcement agencies across the country warning of possible armed protests at all 50 state Capitols starting Jan. 16. The memo also says an armed group has threatened to travel to Washington, D.C., the same day and stage an uprising if Congress removes President Donald Trump from office, according to a senior law enforcement official.
There have also been online flyers going around, promising (or warning) of armed marches throughout the state capitals, as well as D.C.
"We are taking this seriously, I know I speak for New Jersey and I believe that's the case around the country," Gov. Murphy said Friday.
While online actors have discussed possible threats for Jan. 16 through the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20, it doesn’t mean that law enforcement agencies expect violent mass protests or confrontations in every state, NBC News reported.
There have already been more than 70 arrests stemming from last week's violent protests, and federal prosecutors have opened more than 170 cases — a number that was expected to grow to 300 by the end of Friday. The FBI said it has received more than 140,000 videos and photos as tips, as agents have told rioters that "even your friends and family are tipping us off." A few of the arrests of those involved in the siege on the Capitol have occurred in the tri-state.
An MTA worker from New York was charged with with trespassing on federal government property and with impeding the orderly function of government for his role in the Capitol riot. Will Pepe, who worked at a railyard in Brewster, was suspended by the agency after taking a sick day to attend the violent protest. He was released on bond, and has been ordered to stay away from D.C.
The son of a Brooklyn judge was arrested by the FBI Tuesday morning for his fur-clad participation in the Capitol Hill riots. Aaron Mostofsky, 34, faces four charges, including felony theft of government property and unlawful entry. He could receive penalties up to 10 years in prison.
A New Jersey man who says he was standing next to a woman when she was fatally shot during the U.S. Capitol building riots is now charged in connection with last week's breach. Thomas Baranyi, 28, was arrested Tuesday night by the FBI and charged with disorderly or disruptive conduct
The FBI raided the Queens home of Eduard Florea earlier in the week, saying the Proud Boys supporter posted threats about wanting to get a caravan "full of armed patriots" to again target the Capitol. He was arrested when agents found military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his Middle Village home.
As for those involved in storming the Capitol last week, FBI officials in New York and New Jersey said they are investigating numerous individuals. More arrests, and more federal charges, are still expected.
President Donald Trump released a statement Wednesday urging no violence at any possible inauguration protests. Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also issued a stern warning, saying there will be "no tolerance whatsoever for any attempts to disrupt the peaceful transition of power on January 20th that our Constitution calls for."
President-elect Joe Biden will no longer be taking an Amtrak train to Washington, something he became known for during his days as a senator, for his inauguration because of security concerns. The inauguration rehearsal, which was scheduled for Sunday, was postponed to Monday due to security concerns as well.