NJ cops ramp up preparations for possible violence on Sunday
TRENTON — Following last week’s deadly riot at the Capital in Washington, D.C., law enforcement agencies in New Jersey have been warned about a possible armed march and rally by some Trump supporters in Trenton on Sunday.
According to ABC News, the FBI has alerted authorities across the country about the possibility of violent protests at all state Capitals, and there are also concerns other locations, including courthouses, may also be targeted.
Jared Maples, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said intelligence officials have been monitoring the activity of homegrown violent extremists, anti-government anarchists and white supremacists for years. While law enforcement agencies across the state are ready for anything that may take place, there is a fair amount of “chatter” about a violent protest even though no credible threat of violence specifically against New Jersey has been received.
He said authorities rely on the public to contact law enforcement if they see any suspicious activity or learn of planned violence.
“We need the community, we need the public to report to us and we’ll deal with it in a way that’s respectful to everyone’s rights, but also ensures everyone’s rights are protected as well on the other side and no violence occurs," Maples said.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said he was aware of online threats that have been made and “we’re not going to get into much detail on this but needless to say we’re taking nothing for granted.”
Murphy said threats to all possible “soft targets” were being considered.
“Everyone has the right, if they do it peacefully, they have a right to protest whether we agree or disagree. I would just say in this unusual moment in our country’s history, please be careful," he said. “Even if your heart is 1000% in the right place, stay home, stay home. There’s just no need to get in the mix.”
New Jersey State Police Superintendent Pat Callahan said the State Police is ready for possible violence this coming weekend or on the day President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
“We’ll be prepared and we trust that those, if they do show up, that they do it in a peaceful manner,” he said. “From a preparedness standpoint, without getting into detail, we’re prepared. The State Police, our county local and federal partners as well as the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, we’re in lock-step.”
Callahan noted New Jersey has very strict “right to carry” gun laws and “I would strongly recommend that even if you do have a legitimate permit to carry, those who come do not bring their weapons. Usually large crowds and weapons are not a great combination.”
He also said anyone who shows up with a weapon that does not have a permit will be arrested and the weapon will be confiscated.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com