DC Police, FBI on alert ahead of QAnon’s ‘real grand opening day’

Law enforcement around Washington, DC, is adding additional security for the sake of an upcoming date – March 4, which is Thursday – that has swirled online among QAnon supporters.

An internal memo sent by Timothy P. Blodgett, the acting House Sergeant-at-Arms, which was obtained by NBC News, said his office “is working closely with the United States Capitol Police to monitor information relating to March 4 and the potential protests and demo activity surrounding what some have described as the “real day of opening.”

Blodgett wrote that plans are in place for “additional staff” to “support the safety and security of members and staff”.

The memo says Capitol Hill police have “no indication that groups will travel to Washington DC to protest or commit acts of violence.”

An FBI official said last week that the office was aware of the discussion among far-right groups that Thursday may be the next rallying point.

The government is still working to deal with the events of January 6, when a rally organized by President Donald Trump turned into a riot on Capitol Hill.

The QAnon movement has largely focused on predicting the dates on which Trump would initiate a purge of Democrats, journalists and celebrities who he says are part of a secret cabal of child molesters.

The inauguration of President Joe Biden and the riot on Capitol Hill have caused fractures to the far right; some extremists turned against QAnon supporters, and even other QAnon supporters began to question the movement.

Many others remain QAnon adherents, having passed Thursday as the next day they believe Democrats will be arrested en masse or the day Trump is re-invested as president. The “Sovereign Citizen” movement, a 50-year-old conspiratorial movement made up largely of radical tax protesters, believes that there has been no legitimate president since Ulysses S. Grant, who was inaugurated on March 4, 1869 .

Desperate for an explanation that would allow Trump to remain president, some forums of QAnon conspiracy theorists adopted the mythology that he would become the 19th president on Thursday, overturning nearly two centuries of legitimate U.S. government.

Many QAnon followers took part in the January 6 riot at the Capitol, including Douglas Jensen, who led the first wave of the mob to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman. Jake Angeli, also known as QAnon Shaman, has been charged with knowingly entering a restricted building without legal authorization, violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds after standing at the Senate dais for riot.

As users in QAnon groups online look forward to Thursday, no specific protests or events are planned, according to an NBC analysis of the largest remaining forums. Compared to the rally turned riot on Capitol Hill, an event promoted by Trump and several organizations that support him, Thursday should be calm. Prominent conspiracy theory influencers also advised their followers to avoid any events on Thursday, saying they were “false flag” operations organized to trap QAnon supporters.

Extremism experts warn against rejection of a continuing threat by extremists led by downed and violent white supremacists and conspiracy theorists.

“There is little promotion of the action around March 4,” said Daniel J. Jones, who heads Advance Democracy, a disinformation research organization.

“Of course, there can be detailed planning on closed channels that we don’t see. Election conspiracy theories persist and, remarkably, are still being promoted by right-wing political leaders. There shouldn’t be. no doubt now that this type of rhetoric has consequences – so we remain concerned about the potential for violence. “

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