Make no mistake. It could happen here.
The pro-Trump insurrection Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol was a warning shot across the bow of statehouses across the country.
Since the insurrection, ominous messages from far-right extremists have called for marches on state capitols this Sunday.
The FBI’s Indianapolis office released a statement Friday saying that federal, state and local police forces “are aware of a report indicating there may be protests at state capitols this weekend and leading up to the inauguration on January 20.”
The release went on to note that no specific, substantiated threats to the state Capitol and other government buildings in Indiana have been fielded, but the office vowed to “continually monitor” potential safety concerns and communicate with the public.
The law enforcement agency asks that anyone with information about suspicious activity call the FBI at 317-595-4000 or 1-800-CALL-FBI or go to tips.fbi.gov.
State capitols have been targeted by far-right extremists in recent months, most notably in Michigan, where armed men entered the Capitol in April to protest restrictions related to the pandemic. Six months later, anti-government extremists plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Investigators say the instigator of the Michigan statehouse occupation wanted to recruit 200 extremists to take hostages and “execute tyrants.”
While Washington, D.C., might seem like a world away from the cornfields of Indiana, if it can happen in our neighboring state to the north, it can happen here.
Indiana is generally a moderate state and Hoosier supporters of President Donald Trump, who won the state in November by a whopping 16 percentage points, are for the most part good people with good intentions. But there are always bad actors, extremists who will seize on any opportunity to commit violence. Indiana is not immune.
At the statehouse and in communities across Indiana, peaceful protests should be accepted, even encouraged, as a means of promoting liberty and expressing political opinions.
But the vast majority of Hoosiers will agree that any display similar to what happened in Washington, D.C., this month should be soundly rejected and perpetrators brought to justice.
Echoes of Jan. 6 are not wanted in Indiana. But we must be prepared this weekend — and beyond.
The Herald Bulletin, Anderson