Alabama officials looking out for safety concerns after FBI warning

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Alabama officials said Tuesday they are monitoring activity for possible safety concerns following an FBI warning Monday that armed protesters planned to gather in all 50 U.S. capitals.

Law enforcement sources told the Associated Press Monday that an FBI internal bulletin says, “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said Tuesday, it “continues to monitor activity for public safety concerns and possible threats related to the ongoing protests across the nation.”

During a press event Tuesday, after she received her second COVID-19 vaccination, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was asked about the FBI’s guidance regarding state capitals.

“I’m glad they’re alert,” Ivey said. “We’re in touch with our law enforcement, ALEA, etc., we’re prepared. I hope this is just not going to happen. We need to focus on uniting our country, not dividing ourselves. So, we’ll just stay vigilant.”

It is illegal under Alabama law to bring a gun to a political rally.

The expected protests will draw heightened scrutiny after last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol while the House and Senate were meeting to certify the Electoral College votes in the 2020 presidential election.

President Trump and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who represents Huntsville and much of North Alabama, both spoke at a rally Wednesday morning questioning the electoral vote’s legitimacy and urging the crowd to go to the Capitol.

News 19 contacted the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Ivey’s office and the office of Attorney General Steve Marshall concerning the possibility of capital protests in Alabama.

Attorney General Marshall offered this comment Tuesday night:

“It is hoped that any protests that occur in the coming days will be peaceful. Violence has no place in our society and those who break our laws seeking to foment anarchy will be held accountable.”

ALEA issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) in conjunction with local law enforcement continue to work together to provide overall safety and security to all state buildings within the Capitol complex. ALEA also works closely with the Department of Finance who manages all operations of state buildings including the Capitol. 

 “ALEA continues to monitor activity for public safety concerns and possible threats related to the ongoing protests across the nation.

  “ALEA recognizes that United States Citizens have constitutionally protected rights to assemble, speak, and petition the government. ALEA safeguards these first amendment rights, and reports on only those activities where the potential use of rhetoric and/or propaganda could be used to carry out acts of violence.

“Additionally, potential criminality exhibited by certain members of a group does not negate the constitutional rights of the group itself or its law-abiding participants to exercise their individual liberties under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.” reports Marshall has pledged to launch an investigation into how a group he chairs as part of the Republican Attorneys General Association — the Rule of Law Defense Fund— apparently helped pay for robocalls encouraging supporters to come to the Washington D.C. rally last week, where Brooks and President Trump spoke.

Marshall’s office issued the following statement last week:

“I was unaware of unauthorized decisions made by RLDF staff with regard to this week’s rally. Despite currently transitioning into my role as the newly elected chairman of RLDF, it is unacceptable that I was neither consulted about nor informed of those decisions.  I have directed an internal review of this matter.

“As I’ve previously stated, I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of those who attempted to storm the U.S. Capitol, a place where passionate but peaceful protestors had gathered and lawmakers debated inside.  Our country is built upon the foundation of the rule of law. American democracy guarantees the right of peaceful protest. Those who chose to engage in violence and anarchy should and will be held accountable under the law.”