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FBI, City Of Albany Preparing For Political Unrest Ahead Of Inauguration Day

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York Antoinette Bacon
Lucas Willard
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York Antoinette Bacon

While law enforcement officials say there are no specific threats at this time, they are preparing for demonstrations around the New York State Capitol in Albany in the run-up to Inauguration Day. 

The days ahead could see protests at state capitols across the country ahead of President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York Antoinette Bacon stood outside Albany FBI headquarters Thursday afternoon to describe how the federal government is coordinating with state and local police to monitor for politically-motivated violence.

Speaking of the mob of supporters of President Donald Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, Bacon condemned the violence as an attack on the rule of law, the Constitution, and American democracy.

“Our focus is not on peaceful protesters. Our focus is on those who are threatening the safety of peaceful protesters or the safety of other citizens,” said Bacon.

The FBI Albany Field office is setting up a command post to coordinate and share information. Thomas Relford is the Special Agent In Charge.

“At this point in time, the FBI has not received any specific threat to the New York or Vermont state capitol or other government building in our area. That said, between now and January 20th – Inauguration Day – we will be maintaining a heightened posture to monitor any threat to come into our region,” said Relford.

Relford said that the FBI is continuing to investigate perpetrators of the raid on the capitol – a Syracuse man was arrested by the FBI for his role in the siege.

Following the violence in Washington, State Street by the state capitol in Albany has been blocked off.

City of Albany officials are preparing for demonstrations around the capitol on Sunday and next week.

At a separate briefing Thursday, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said she supports free speech but asked residents to stay away, if possible.

“If you come here to protest, we ask you to do so peacefully. We ask you to listen to directions provided by law enforcement. They are trying to keep you and everyone else safe. And if you disagree with the views of the people who we anticipate are coming to protest the lawful results of the 2020 election, we ask you to stay home,” Sheehan said.

Police Chief Eric Hawkins says Albany Police are coordinating with New York State Police, who have maintained a heightened presence at the capitol since January 6th.

“We’re preparing for the worst and expecting the best.”

Hawkins added there are no plans right now to close other streets or restrict parking.

The lawn outside the state capitol has seen violence as recently as last week, when two people were stabbed in a confrontation between pro-Trump demonstrators and counter-protesters.

The FBI is asking for assistance from the community. If you have information about a threat, dial 1-800-CALL-FBI.  

Copyright 2021 WAMC Northeast Public Radio

Lucas Willard graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. He also attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in 2010, where he studied audio and multimedia storytelling. Prior to joining WAMC in 2011, Lucas worked with the Sound and Story Project of the Hudson Valley, the Big Shed Audio Documentary Podcast, the Albany Broadcasting Company, WDVL & WCVF-FM Fredonia, and WSUC-FM Cortland.