Washington, DC – U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced Wednesday morning that they were beefing up security in the face of threats from “an identified militia group” that may have plotted to breach the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.
The announcement contradicted a statement from the acting House sergeant at arms earlier in the week that there was “no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence,” WTOP reported.
“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” the department said in a statement released on March 3.
“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4. We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers,” the statement continued.
“Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol,” USCP said. “We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time.”
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) March 2, 2021
A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) bulletin said the intelligence could involve the Three Percenters, ABC News reported.
Law enforcement sources said the information in that FBI bulletin came from an FBI intelligence report in February that described an alleged plot by the “Three Percenters militia group to use diversionary tactics such as detonating a bomb” to draw police and National Guard away from the Capitol building prior to their attack.
“Three Percenters” is a loose ideology, not an organization.
“The term ‘Three Percenter’ comes from a story that only three percent of the population fought in the Revolutionary War, and thanks to those patriots, liberty was achieved for everybody,” The Police Tribune Editor-in-Chief Christopher Berg has explained. “What connects Three Percenters is an anti-authoritarian belief system, which often treads into anti-government extremism.”
“Three Percenter’s aren’t an organized group,” Berg said. “There are organized groups of Three Percenters, but literally anybody can declare themselves to be a Three Percenter with no connection to any other Three Percenters or outside group.”
Sources told ABC News that an internal Capitol Police memo that was distributed on Tuesday contained details about the alleged militia plot to storm the U.S. Capitol complex on March 4.
March 4 is a significant date because there have been rumors from QAnon conspiracy theorists that former President Donald Trump would be restored to power on that day, WTTG reported.
The date of March 4 was the original Presidential Inauguration date up until 1937 when the 20th Amendment shifted it to January.
Capitol Police officers’ days off and vacation days have been cancelled due to the threat, WTTG reported.
U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-New York) expressed concern about the reported threats for March 4 and said he wasn’t sure Capitol Police could handle it, the Associated Press reported.
“I believe that there should be additional resources assigned to their efforts to sweep for explosives, for example,” Espaillat said. “And I don’t know to what degree that’s being done right now.”
USCP leadership was expected to give lawmakers a closed-door security briefing later on Wednesday.
USCP Acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman testified before a House committee that the number of threats against members of Congress so far this year has increased by more than 93 percent as compared to last year in the same time period, WTOP reported.
Chief Pittman also reported a 118 percent increase in total threats received by members of Congress from 2017 to 2020.
The police chief said most of the threats came from suspects that were not located in the nation’s capital, WTTG reported.