‘We are not going to tolerate that sort of action’: Denver mayor discusses inauguration protest preparations following Capitol attack

FBI reportedly receives information indicating ‘armed protests’ at all 50 state capitols

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke at a news briefing on Nov. 17, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said on Tuesday that “all tools are on the table” to help keep the city safe during anticipated protests leading up to Inauguration Day.

Just a week after insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, information surfaced from the FBI about “armed protests” planned at all 50 state capitals in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20, according to an internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News. The FBI also received information on a group calling for the storming of government buildings if President Donald Trump is impeached or removed from office.

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Hancock said that local and federal law enforcement are closely monitoring potential protest plans online to see how the FBI’s latest intelligence relates to the city. The Denver Police Department confirmed on Monday that it is monitoring two potential planned protests leading up to Inauguration Day. A counterprotest is also being organized by community activists at Colorado’s Capitol on Inauguration Day.

“The goal is to keep everyone safe,” Hancock said during an interview on Tuesday morning. “We’re not going to tolerate that type of action happening here in Denver, the unnecessary injuring of people and the destruction of property. We stand ready. Right now the whole goal is preparation.” 

Pro-Trump extremists clash with law enforcement at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Alex Kent for Tennessee Lookout)

Hancock said the preparation plans are ongoing and that all available tools are on the table. If deemed necessary, he said he will reach out to the governor to call for assistance from the National Guard. 

On Tuesday he said he’s considering closing government buildings for the days leading up to inauguration, as he did during last week’s insurrection in Washington, D.C. “Right now, we continue to monitor situations,” he said. “If I feel the need to do that, I will certainly not hesitate to do it.”

When asked if he would implement a city-wide curfew in response to the planned protests, he said “nothing is off the table.” 

“The first time we deployed that this spring was the first time in history we’ve had to do something like that,” Hancock said. “So it had to be pretty extreme for us to get to that point.”

Law enforcement releases little information on preparation

Denver Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol officials said they are monitoring potential civil unrest leading up to Inauguration Day, but they’ve released little information regarding their actual preparation plans.

“We do not discuss in detail our plans for responding to demonstrations/protests as that could jeopardize public and officer safety,” a Denver police spokesperson said in a statement. “What we can say at this time is that DPD is aware that there are efforts to organize two possible protests in Denver in the coming weeks and we will continue monitoring and planning accordingly.”

Pro-Trump extremists breach security at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Alex Kent for Tennessee Lookout)

The Colorado State Patrol, which is responsible for the protection of the Capitol, said in a prepared statement that it is aware of possible “activity” at the site leading up to Inauguration Day, but the agency also didn’t provide details.

“We have been monitoring events on the national level and will continue to monitor for possible events in Colorado,” a spokesperson for the Colorado State Patrol said in a written statement. “We support all those who plan to peaceably assemble in order to exercise their first amendment rights.” 

“Our agency is prepared for this potential activity and emphasizes the importance of a peaceful approach that allows for safe public discourse for all,” the spokesperson added. “Due to security reasons, we do not discuss our staffing or our measures in place.” 

Other Colorado cities are monitoring for potential civil unrest 

Lieutenant James Sokolik, public information officer for the Colorado Springs Police Department, would not say if the department was taking additional precautions in response to planned actions across the country.

“We monitor any potential social unrest, but at this point in time, it’s not something we would discuss one way or another about what we would or would not be doing as part of any kind of preparation in the case of social unrest,” said Sokolik, adding that at this time he’s not aware of any planned protests in Colorado Springs.

Jim Saunders of the Election Integrity Project leads a pro-Trump rally at the Colorado Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)

In response to a media request, a spokesperson for the Grand Junction Police Department said that they could not respond to media questions until the end of the week because all command staff was away at a training.

Bob Brammer, Durango’s Chief of Police, said that he isn’t anticipating protests in southwestern Colorado leading up to inauguration, but it’s always a possibility.

“We’ve been pretty much in a state of hypervigilance and paying attention to what’s going on,” said Brammer, who’s been the police chief since 2019. 

“Durango itself is a little bit different than the rest of the surrounding communities so we attract a lot of this type of activity,” he added. “It’s a focal point because we are the biggest (city) in the southwest part of the region. But at this point we have no actionable intelligence to believe that anything is going to occur.”

He said the most that’s happened so far has been people driving through town with Trump flags.

“There were some warnings that were put out last week, and we followed up with those and we were prepared for it but nothing transpired, and I think it’s gonna be very similar moving into this next couple weeks,” Brammer said. “I just hope everybody keeps it peaceful.”

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