(The Center Square) – With the FBI warning of armed protests planned for every state capitol in the nation beginning this weekend, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced activation of the Ohio National Guard.
DeWine, at his traditional news conference to detail COVID-19 news, said 580 National Guard troops have been activated for training and to be prepared in case they are needed to police riots. An additional 200 troops will go to Washington, D.C. as the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden nears.
“Yes, I’m concerned. I have instructed the highway patrol and the National Guard to be ready,” DeWine said. “People have the right to protest. They do not have the right to be destructive or hurt other people. We welcome peaceful protesters, but we saw what happened at the Capitol, so we are concerned.”
The threats come nearly a week after supporters of President Trump rioted at the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths.
Officials have said FBI reports say armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from this weekend through at least Jan. 20. The FBI also said additional threats have been made if President Trump is removed from office before Jan. 20.
DeWine said the more he sees images from the Jan. 6 riot, the more concerned he becomes.
“Seeing information about who the people were and how well prepared they were, it’s something every American should be concerned about,” DeWine said. “The more we see about what went on, the worse it looks.”
DeWine said a similar incident at the Statehouse in Columbus as the one at the U.S. Capitol would be deeply concerning.
“That would be our worst fear. We don’t want to see that,” DeWine said. “We know there are people in this country who want to do more than demonstrate. This is a disturbing thing. We have people, who for whatever reason, want to commit violence. We cannot allow that. We will not allow that.”
The Cincinnati office of the FBI also issued a statement.
“While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, the FBI is supporting our state, local, and federal law enforcement partners with maintaining public safety in the communities we serve. Our efforts are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals that are inciting violence and engaging in criminal activity. As we do in the normal course of business, we are gathering information to identify any potential threats and are sharing that information with our partners. 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 statement read.