Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications said the city has not received any threats related to a national terrorism bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this week.
"Although at this time, Chicago has not received any related threats, OEMC encourages the public to report any suspicious activity and threats of violence to 9-1-1," a message on the Chicago office's Facebook page read Friday. "OEMC continues to work closely with public safety partners to ensure the safety of all residents."
The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks.
The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.
It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4.
But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism.
The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups.
A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.”
“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said.
The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday activated 500 Illinois National Guard troops, with plans to send them to Washington D.C. "at the request of the Department of Defense."
“The U.S. Department of Defense has asked Illinois to assist federal and local agencies in this continued effort, and Major General Neely and I are ready to ensure that the state of Illinois continues its proud legacy of protecting our democracy,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Ultimately, we must root out the dark forces of racism, white supremacy and disinformation that have created this moment, but until we do that, our extraordinary troops will deploy with honor.”
The soldiers, along with some Illinois Air National Guard airmen, are expected to remain at the nation’s capital until mid-March.
“We are deploying these forces in support of civilian law enforcement based on threat-levels against the U.S. Capitol. These threats were assessed by the FBI and other federal agencies,” Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard, said in a statement. “Our soldiers and airmen are committed to the defense of both our nation and our state. We have asked a lot of them in the last year and each time these men and women have answered the call and upheld their oath to defend and support the U.S. Constitution. I could not be more proud of these Soldiers and Airmen.”
The Illinois forces are set to join approximately 7,000 National Guard members from throughout the United States in Washington, D.C. In February, that force will draw down to 5,000, officials said.