New Mexico State Police and National Guard troops stood watch over the seat of New Mexico’s government in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Jan. 16.
The increased security came in response to warnings of potential violence from the FBI ahead of the presidential inauguration on Wednesday.
Following the deadly insurrection at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, the FBI cautioned that state capitols across the nation could see “armed protests'' in the days leading up to President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s swearing in, according to an internal bulletin obtained by ABC News.
“FBI assets are on standby to support investigations and respond to any potential threats of violence to the state capitol, federal buildings and other key facilities,” Frank Fisher, a spokesman for the FBI field office in Albuquerque, said in a press release.
The Roundhouse and surrounding grounds, usually an open environment bustling with lawmakers, lobbyists and press in the weekend preceding New Mexico’s annual legislative session, remained eerily quiet as roads were blocked by police and soldiers in camouflage fatigues. The imposing building where legislators gather to deliberate and vote sat behind rows of flimsy chain-link fencing.
Despite the preparation by law enforcement and the National Guard, and the warnings from the FBI, New Mexico’s capitol remained calm and mostly deserted over the weekend, with the exception of a few passersby and media crews.
While other state capitols saw armed protests on Sunday, the majority remained “largely quiet” according to reporting from the New York Times. Still, the prospect of violence lingered heavily in the air following the attack on the Capitol in D.C., a plot orchestrated by white nationalist and far-right militant groups on social media.
As mainstream social media companies have increasingly regulated their platforms to combat violent rhetoric — including a large swath of platforms restricting or removing content from outgoing President Donald Trump — members of extremist groups including the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers have started to move to encrypted messaging apps like Telegram and Signal. While lacking the megaphonic range of Twitter or Facebook, the apps allow for more exclusive and secretive conversations which can be difficult or near-impossible for law enforcement to monitor.
The FBI’s warning of impending violence throughout the nation remains in effect through Inauguration Day. In D.C., up to 25,000 National Guard members will be present and armed for the ceremony, according to the National Guard Bureau.
Liam DeBonis is the photo editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LiamDebonis