Colorado leaders share plans to keep city safe following FBI warning of armed protests

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DENVER — Less than a week after insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, the FBI is now warning there may be armed protests in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration

In the bulletin obtained by ABC News, the agency says there is an online right-wing group calling for the storming of local, state and federal government courthouses and administrative buildings if President Trump is removed from office prior to Inauguration Day.

There are also reports the group plans to storm government offices in every state on Inauguration Day regardless of whether the state certified votes for Biden or Trump.

“We’d rather be prepared and over prepared than to not be prepared and caught off guard,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.

Hancock said intelligence communications are currently being shared among Denver Police and state and federal law enforcement to assess what the FBI’s bulletin may mean for the city.

“The worst thing we can do is not take seriously the intel we’re picking up. The type of postings that are occurring on social media… what we saw in D.C. [We’re] not overreacting but making sure we’re doing everything necessary to make sure we’re preparing ourselves,” Hancock said.

Denver Police wouldn’t share details for how they plan on protecting Denver government buildings but shared the following statement:

The Denver Police Department (DPD) respects the right to peacefully assemble. DPD continually monitors for protests/demonstrations and plans accordingly, while working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners. DPD encourages those who participate in protests, demonstrations, marches, or other gatherings, as protected by the First Amendment, to do so in a safe and lawful manner.

Due to the sensitivity and potential safety concerns, we do not identify specific events, groups, organizers, etc. in regards to protests, marches, assemblies. Similarly, we do not discuss in detail our plans for responding to demonstrations/protests as that could jeopardize public and officer safety. What we can say at this time is that DPD is aware that there are efforts to organize two possible protests in Denver in the coming weeks and we will continue monitoring and planning accordingly.

As always, DPD encourages people to immediately report suspicious or illegal activity by calling our non-emergency line at 720-913-2000 or 911 for emergencies.

Hancock said the city will spare no efforts in making sure those who choose to protest do so peacefully.

“We encourage and support people to peacefully assemble in our city, [for people] to exercise their First Amendment rights and have their grievances heard. What we will not tolerate are people who come down to destroy property and injure individuals, and we’ll use everything we can and every tool possible to protect life and property,” Hancock said.

The Colorado legislature is set to convene on Wednesday but will only be in session through Friday before taking recess until Feb. 16.

“There are a number of changes that legislators have been discussing with State Patrol based on their recommendations,” a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said. “We’re unable to share specifics, but will continue to support Colorado State Patrol with whatever they need to keep the Capitol and its occupants safe.”

Colorado State Patrol is responsible for safety protocols in and around the Colorado State Capitol. In a statement the agency said:

The Colorado State Patrol is responsible for the protection of the Colorado State Capitol. We have been monitoring events on the national level and will continue to monitor for possible events in Colorado. We support all those who plan to peaceably assemble in order to exercise their first amendment rights. Our agency is prepared for this potential activity and emphasizes the importance of a peaceful approach that allows for safe public discourse for all. Due to security reasons, we do not discuss our staffing or our measures in place.

Governor Jared Polis added that his office is continuing to monitor the developing situation.

“We are monitoring the security situation and support all of those who plan to peacefully assemble and exercise their first amendment rights. Should things turn violent and unlawful like they did during the failed insurrection our country witnessed in Washington, D.C. last week then we will examine every option to ensure people are safe. In Colorado, we reject seditious and violent acts designed to bring down our republic and undermine the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Since the attack on the U.S. Capitol some members of Colorado’s GOP leadership have come out to publicly denounce the violence, while still sharing their support of President Trump.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck and chairman of the Colorado Republican Party has said that he doesn’t support calls for Trump’s impeachment but he does support a peaceful transition of power. In a statement to Denver7 he wrote, “All of our leaders need to be careful about our rhetoric going forward. It’s our responsibility, as members of Congress to tone down the rhetoric. Left or right, we all need to act as leaders and come together during this time. I’m confident that law enforcement will make sure the inauguration is handled safely. I look forward to seeing the peaceful transfer of power.”

Hancock said anyone who sees or hears threats of violence in the coming days, should contact Denver Police’s non-emergency line, 720-913-2000

“We want to ask people on these days where there are at least noted that there might be protest downtown – don’t come downtown.” said Hancock. W