Illinois State Capitol Windows Boarded Up as Area Braces for Potential Protests

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Windows at the Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield were seen being boarded up Friday as authorities prepare for potential protests heading into the weekend and ahead of the presidential inauguration.

"Illinois Secretary of State Capitol Police, along with other law enforcement agencies, are fully aware of possible marches on state capitols," the Illinois Secretary of State’s office said in a statement. "The Illinois Secretary of State Capitol Police remain vigilant to ensure the Illinois Capitol Complex is safe and secure."

The department said it is "taking every measure available" to secure the Capitol complex and that it temporarily affixed plywood over certain windows "out of an abundance of caution."

Earlier this week, Illinois State Police said they were "tracking possible events at the Illinois Capitol building this weekend" following a memo from the FBI warning law enforcement agencies across the country of possible armed protests at all 50 state capitols.

"The ISP remain vigilant in our mission to protect the safety  of those engaged in the process of democracy, constitutional rights and public institutions," ISP said in a statement. "The ISP and local law enforcement will have all available resources at our disposal to respond to threats identified through federal, state and local intelligence."

The FBI memo reported the protests could begin as early as Jan. 16, and 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. The memo discusses possible threats discussed by online actors for Jan. 16 through the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20, but that doesn’t mean that law enforcement agencies expect violent mass protests or confrontations in every state, NBC News reported.

Chicago officials have also announced security preparations, activating the city's emergency operations center for the presidential inauguration next week.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management said the operations center will be activated Wednesday "in order to coordinate the city’s public safety response to the events surrounding the presidential inauguration, as needed."

"OEMC along with the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and the city’s infrastructure departments are prepared to take protective action and will continue to monitor the situation daily," OEMC said in a statement. "Any adjustments will be made as warranted."

Currently, officials said they are not aware of "any actionable activity being planned in Chicago."

"We anticipate the City of Chicago will remain peaceful. However, OEMC is prepared to mobilize assets to ensure the safety of residents, neighborhood commercial corridors and critical businesses, in the event of any incidents," OEMC said.

The department urged residents to call 911 and report any suspicious activity.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has also activated approximately 200 members of the Illinois National Guard to help provide support during next week’s presidential inauguration in Washington.

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