Local News

NC preps for possible protests, extremists to march on State Capitol

Posted January 15, 2021 4:29 p.m. EST
Updated January 16, 2021 8:56 a.m. EST

— Concerns are increasing in downtown Raleigh ahead of possible protests at all state capitols. According to a flier distributed on social media sites, there are plans for marches to take place in Washington, D.C., as well as across the country.

There doesn’t appear to be one organizer, but rather, it's a call for action for a mass armed march.

With that comes mounting fears that extremists could be among those protesters.

North Carolina has 53 extremists groups, according to the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center. The organization is focused on racial justice and dismantling white supremacy. Its research, among other areas, include tracking and identifying extremists.

The SPLC notes that there are 32 hate groups in North Carolina. Those include the likes of the Ku Klux Klan and Proud Boys, as well as three white nationalist organizations and four with neo-Confederate ideology.

Additionally, WRAL News found 21 groups that are considered anti-government organizations, and four of those are militias.

These are the groups expected to be part of the inauguration-related rallies across the country.

Several researchers have pointed out that extremists have proposed or hinted about different events taking place, starting Saturday and running through President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next Wednesday.

Much of the planning has been occurring online.

WRAL looked through Twitter, scraping the site for five commonly-used phrases to track how many of those conversations are happening close to home. The search generated thousands of responses, and the addresses for more than 2,100 of the tweets show that fewer than 1 percent of the comments came from people in North Carolina.

Of the terms searched, the one that generated the most responses in the 15 minutes prior to scraping showed 842 users with known addresses. Only 27 were from North Carolina.

In the interest of public safety and so as not to encourage any interaction with the extremist groups, WRAL isn’t revealing the phrases searched.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said his agency is continuing to monitor an extensive amount of concerning online chatter leading up to the inauguration.

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