WASHINGTON — When it’s over, it won’t be over.
On alternative social media, self-styled militia and patriot websites and hate-group platforms like that of the Proud Boys, the message is the same: There are no plans to fade away after Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
“There’s no reason to believe that the problem we encountered in the U.S. Capitol on the 6th (of January) will dissipate,” warns Paul Joyal, a security expert who pointed to FBI alerts about possible political violence. “That in and of itself is evidence of a wide-ranging network of men of violence who are willing to take the law into their own hands.”
The FBI has warned of possible attacks on government buildings in all 50 states, perhaps in demonstrations this weekend. A massive military presence is already in place in the nation’s capital to send a muscular message to would-be insurrectionists. Armed extremists had already protested at the state capitols of Pennsylvania and Michigan during the heated presidential campaign.
On Friday, the inspectors general at the Pentagon, Justice Department, Interior Department and Homeland Security announced probes into agency planning before, the response during and actions after the siege of the U.S. Capitol that the FBI had warned about in advance.
Tech companies one by one have taken extremist groups off their platforms, and while that lowers the tone it also makes it harder to follow those who are fomenting violence.
The takeover of the Capitol building came in the wake of a monthslong narrative pushed by President Donald Trump and his followers and some GOP lawmakers that the election would be — then was — stolen from him. That’s something repeatedly rejected by state and federal courts, but very much alive in the minds of many of his supporters.
The ultra-nationalist Proud Boys, led by Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and some of whose members ran as for office as Republicans in Florida, are a prime example of the challenges awaiting the incoming Biden administration.
The group’s Miami-based leader Tarrio was detained before he could take part in the storming of the Capitol.
Yet on the now-idled social media platform Parler, an account bearing his name busily sent around that day what amounted to a call to arms, including a celebratory photo of people inside the building hiding from the rampaging crowd.