Law enforcement in Raleigh gears up for possible armed protest at NC Capitol this weekend

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — State and local law enforcement leaders say they are working together, and remain vigilant against threats at North Carolina’s Capitol and grounds this weekend.

The FBI issued a warning about planned armed protests at all 50 state capitols this weekend.  A flyer circulating widely online calls for armed marches Sunday.

“We don’t know yet who is planning to come here. We are working with Capitol Police. We are working with State Highway Patrol. We are working with the legislative police. We are collaborating. We are sharing information,” said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety, which oversees Capitol Police, says they can’t comment on specific security plans, but they remain extremely vigilant.

“Our law enforcement entities are engaged with our local, state and federal partners to identify and address a myriad of public safety threats. The necessary work of the state and federal governments continues and I am grateful to our outstanding law enforcement professionals for their service,” said a spokesperson in a statement.

Raleigh police also said they couldn’t comment on whether or not any additional measures would be in place to protect residents and businesses downtown, but they “consider and evaluate many factors, including events that have occurred elsewhere, as they make safety and staffing decisions.”

The department is asking residents and business owners to notify them if they see anything suspicious.

Baldwin said the department would be prepared.  She says they learned from mistakes made during violence and rioting after racial justice protests downtown last spring.

“Were caught flat-footed. Even though we have seen many protests in Raleigh, we’re a capitol city, we had never seen anything like that,” she said. “We learned a lot. We are prepared.”

Baldwin says there are no plans for an additional curfew, given the current info they have and that similar protests have taken place during the day.

“People have a right to protest, but we also have to think about safety,” she said.

Javed Ali, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, says during his time at the FBI, he drafted similar bulletins to the one just issued warning about armed protests.

“That’s unprecedented in my recollection,” he said.

Ali says while it’s unclear how credible the threats are, they need to be taken seriously.

“Plan for the worst and hope for the best. In the aftermath of what happened last week at the U.S. Capitol, you have to make the assumption that something like that could happen,” he said.

The North Carolina Department of Administration says so far, the only permit request for this weekend was approved in July.

N.C. Right to Life will hold a march and rally at Bicentennial Mall Saturday.  Lt. Governor Mark Robinson is scheduled to speak.

Event organizers say they have held the march peacefully for 22 consecutive years, and plan to do so again this weekend. 

“Our rally and march has a consistent record of communicating well with city and state officials. NCRTL and its supporters have been complimented by the city for its cleanliness and good rapport with the capitol and local police,” North Carolina Right to Life assistant director, Will Moore said in an email. 

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