Gov. Pritzker activates IL National Guard following FBI warning of armed protests threats

Chicago area houses of worship also boost security
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The FBI is warning officials in Washington D.C. and all 50 state capitals to be ready for possible face-offs with violent extremists.

The warning prompted Governor JB Pritzker to activate the Illinois National Guard to bolster security at state buildings in downtown Springfield.

Pritzker has called 250 members for state active duty. Illinois State Police, Secretary of State Police and Illinois Emergency Management Agency are working in tandem with local and federal counterparts to protect the residents of Illinois while safeguarding the right to peaceful protest, according to the governor's office.

Some windows at the State Capitol building were being boarded up Friday.

The Illinois Secretary of State's office said it was "taking every measure available" to secure the Capitol complex and that it temporarily affixed plywood over certain windows "out of an abundance of caution."

The governor has also activated an additional 100 troops to join the approximately 200 members of the Guard that were previously activated and sent to Washington D.C. to join nearly 25,000 other National Guard members deployed to the nation's capital.

The National Mall now looks more like a fortress as the FBI braces for potential armed protests and clashes between extremists and law enforcement.

"Following the violent siege at our nation's capital and reports from federal law enforcement on threats to state capitals, I am bringing all resources to bear to protect our residents and our democratic process," Gov. Pritzker said. "Our exemplary members of the Illinois National Guard will be working closely with our State Police as well as local and federal authorities to keep our capital city safe. We will continue to be fully transparent with the public on any new information and the steps we are taking to respond."

Earlier this week, Illinois State Police said they were "tracking possible events at the Illinois Capitol building this weekend" following the memo from the FBI.

The FBI memo said the protests could begin as early as Saturday.

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The Illinois National Guard will not interfere with peaceful protestors exercising their first amendment rights, Pritzker's office said. The role of the soldiers is to aid local authorities in enforcing street closures and designated perimeters.

Here in the Chicago area, some local places of worship increasing their security.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago said the FBI warned the Council that its members could be targeted by white supremacists over the next couple of weeks.

"We are concerned with the situation, how it's panning out, especially for the minority groups," said Irshad Khan Ciogc with the Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago..

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Chicago's Office of Emergency Management said its operations center will be activated on the day Biden takes office Wednesday "in order to coordinate the city's public safety response to the events surrounding the presidential inauguration, as needed."

Authorities say they're going over about 140,000 digital media tips to try keeping the inauguration safe.

"Anybody who plots or attempts violence in the coming week should expect a visit," said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Investigators said 80 cases have already been charged in federal court connected to last week's capitol riot with 34 people arrested so far.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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