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Documents received from BuzzFeed News show that the authorities were particularly focused on the Proud Boys and even monitored the hotel they were staying in.
Brianna Sacks and
Last updated on March 3, 2021 at 9:26 pm. ET
Posted on March 3, 2021 at 9:15 am ET
Members of the Proud Boys gather outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021
The day before a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, Homeland Security officials warned that » domestic extremists « would attend the pro-Trump rallies scheduled for January 6th. Authorities had actively monitored far-right groups like the Proud Boys, as well as Facebook events with thousands of confirmed attendees, some of whom explicitly set out their plans to march at Congress and gather at the Capitol.
Nonetheless, the state passed and heads of government that there is no information that federal facilities are being targeted, as evidenced by a cache of internal documents from the Department of Homeland Security’s federal security service.
« There is no information / information to suggest that FPS -protected federal facilities will be targeted this week. However, a number of federal facilities are in the expected protest area and we will be ready to respond if necessary, « said Richard » Kris « Cline. The deputy director of the FPS said in the January 5 email with the subject « Prepare for Wed Protests ».
The details on the 81 pages of the edited documents, which include emails, photos and intelligence reports, give Shedding light on how closely federal security officials monitored the activities of extremist groups and Trump supporters from the United States in the days prior to the deadly uprising. Though police in the U.S. Capitol were unprepared for the violent mob, the documents showed that Homeland Security officials had information that tens of thousands of Trump supporters would gather in the National Mall and specifically focus on the Proud Boys and even the hotel in which they stayed. In DHS communications, officials shared dozens of Facebook events, including some from militant groups, and wrote that they expected groups to march to the Capitol.
A photo emailed by a federal security service official Mail has been sent showing the crowd gathering at the ellipse for then-President Donald Trump’s speech.
Now under new leadership, DHS pledges to work with local law enforcement and other agencies to improve its ability to Dealing with extremist domestic threats in the future.
“The lessons of the violent and illegal events of January 6th will help improve our ability to stop future acts of violence. The DHS is participating in investigations into the response to the attack and is examining internally how best to improve the exchange of information about threats, ”a spokesman told BuzzFeed News. « Under the leadership of Secretary Mayorkas, combating domestic violent extremism is a top priority for the DHS. » BuzzFeed News received the documents at the request of the Freedom of Information Act. The agency has withheld some information from the records, citing a number of exceptions, including ongoing law enforcement investigations, privacy and potential threats to individuals such as law enforcement personnel or whistleblowers if the details were disclosed. The Washington Post also reported on the documents on Wednesday.
The Federal Protective Service is a law enforcement and security agency within the DHS that protects 9,500 federal homes across the country, but not the Capitol itself. The once little-known agency with around 1,300 full-time workers and 13,000 assigned security guards attracted national attention and outcry after sending officials to Portland, Oregon, Trump’s direction during the climax of the racial justice protests against then-President Donald Trump that summer. Its director, L. Eric Patterson, also took the unusual step of authorizing officials from other agencies within the DHS to join the protest response without proper training, according to a critical report from the Inspector General’s office that sparked chaos and violence clashed with protesters, injured several, and used unmarked cars to snatch and arrest others.
Although an FPS email stated that there was no news of a threat to federal buildings on Jan. 6, reported Announcements from senior FPS officials that the Proud Boys and other extremist groups would flock to DC along with thousands of Trump supporters from the US. They planned to protest what they thought was a stolen election, and they also had plans to march to the Capitol to face Congress.
On January 3, the department’s regional regional director informed senior executives in an E -Mailed that numerous National Park Service-approved permits and sold-out hotels indicated that there would be « large crowds. » Among the « large number » of expected demonstrators, the director listed « Proud Boys » and « many other smaller groups ». The director also referred to the Capitol as a place where Trump supporters would congregate, although he stated that « due to the nature of this event, we do not expect any threat to federal facilities ».
On January 5, the prepared Investigation Department of FPS submitted a detailed bulletin to be distributed to National Capital Region Law Enforcement, General Services Administration and other departments of DHS warning of potentially violent threats related to the January 6th rallies.
« Domestic extremists, including anarchist extremists, anti-government extremists and racially motivated violent extremists, are likely to participate in First Amendment protected activities and use activities as an opportunity to promote their ideologies and motivate followers to promote violence, » the bulletin said .
That night, d The authorities emailed four protesters for having a gun and for being « messy » in the Black Lives Matter square. Homeland Security officials also found and evacuated protesters trying to sleep in their cars near the National Mall. In an email sent on the morning of January 6th, the regional director reiterated that they were expecting « large groups » at the US Capitol due to the joint session of Congress at 1:00 pm. to certify the election results. FPS was following three major rallies, two of which had plans to march to the Capitol when Congress began its session.
FPS officials had already combed social media to track and monitor the plans of Trump supporters, to gather in DC that day. In emails and bulletins shared with the national operations center and homeland security guards, FPS officials described dozens of Facebook events and other postings that explicitly stated which groups wanted to rally and where they came from and met and how many people had RSVP’d. Their lists included groups coming by bus from places like Ohio and New Jersey. A memo from Homeland’s intelligence gathering point, known as the Joint Strategic and Tactical Analysis Command Center, cataloged 29 protests from the elections scheduled for January 6th in DC alone.
For example, at a convention event in March 1,200 people committed and 5,000 interested. A million MAGA March / Stop the Steal rally had 2,300 interested parties. The U.S. Capitol Police also highlighted demonstrations and shared them with federal partners – one planned for the Capitol Eastern Front to urge Congress to vote against confirming an election that the organizers called a fraudulent election.
On the day of the attack, FPS officials continued to discuss the crowd, sending information about groups of proud boys and disturbing potential threats. In a midday memo to FPS leaders and the FBI’s National Crisis Coordination Center, one commanding officer counted « 300 proud boys in the US Capitol, » adding that they were « trying to shut down the water system in the downtown area, which includes government facilities. switch off. «
About 25,000 people lived in the White House at the time, and due to pocket restrictions, individuals » hide bags in bushes around the building. » In email threads, federal security officials followed the movements of thousands of demonstrators, as well as militia groups and people “in riot gear” as they moved around the area. The DC Metropolitan Police also responded to a man who once carried a rifle.
« About 200 people representing Proud Boys are in Union Square, » an 11:13 am update reads. A minute later, an FPS officer posted a screenshot of a tweet reporting that a « contingent of proud boys » had broken up with the crowd, « and marched down the mall to the Capitol ».
Exactly an hour later the officer updated his superiors: « POTUS is encouraging protesters to march into the capital and continue to protest there. » Shortly afterwards, at 12:28 pm, he emailed again: « Protesters are heading towards the capital, Pennsylvania, and Constitution Madison in an estimated 10-15,000. «
As the crowd began to roam the National Mall and head to the Capitol, security officers monitored their livestreams and posted screenshots of Trump supporters who first stood on federal monuments and then stormed into the Capitol. Within an hour, officials sent a series of emails about the protests.
At 1:45 p.m., immediately after Congress began its session, an FPS officer posted two screenshots of Capitol Square showing a sea of Trump supporters with American flags passed barricades to stand and sit on what appeared to be a peace memorial.
Emailed photos from Federal Protective Service officials showing rioters on the west side of the U.S. Capitol
In the same email thread about protesters flooding the Capitol grounds, an FPS officer replied with « great picture » to a photo that was edited for privacy reasons.
Another partially edited image from 2:26 p.m. shows about seven people, mostly in red hats, winding their way up a flight of stairs in the Capitol. At that point, the updates from the FSP leaders came swiftly and urgently, showing how quickly the rioters overwhelmed the police force and flooded the building. « Several capital police officers are reporting injuries … » the FPS officer wrote.
At 2:51 pm, the Federal Protective Service dispatched a small squad to assist the Capitol Police, which were recorded to be « mutual aid from Maryland. » and Virginia ”.
At dusk, the authorities finally evacuated the rioter’s building. In an email sent at 6 p.m., an FPS officer asked how many of his officers were assisting there. The Department of Homeland Security « has 24 support agencies, » they wrote. « I need to know if you include FPS in that count. »
A boss replied three minutes later. There were only 16 FPS officers in the Capitol. ●
Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and lives in Los Angeles. He is a 2018 Pulitzer Finalist for International Reporting, received the IRE 2016 FOI Award, and was inducted into the Newseum Institute’s National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame in 2016.