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March 04, 2021

Philly police heighten presence in response to U.S. Capitol threat

Members of the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group, discussed a 'possible plot' online, authorities say

Police Threats
Philly Police Presence Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Philadelphia police are increasing security around critical infrastructure 'out of an abundance of caution' after new threats were made against the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Philadelphia police increased security Thursday in response to reports of possible threats against the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

There are no specific threats of violence in the Philly region, police said. But they have expanded patrols around critical city infrastructure "out of an abundance of caution." 

Earlier this week, U.S. Capitol Police uncovered a "possible plot" to attack the Capitol building Thursday. The plot was being discussed online by members of the Three Percenters, a militia group whose members were among those who participated in the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, according to the Associated Press.

Capitol Police released a statement Wednesday saying they were "prepared for any potential threats" toward Congress members or the Capitol complex. 

"We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4," the statement said. "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.

"Our department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time."

The threat appears connected to a far-right conspiracy theory that claimed former President Donald Trump would take back the White House on March 4 — the presidential inauguration date until 1933. It has been promoted by supporters of QAnon. 

The threat forced the House of Representatives to cancel its legislative session.. The Senate is expected to remain in session to discuss the parameters of a proposed COVID-19 relief bill.

In January, Philly police also beefed up security ahead of Inauguration Day, adding officers near historic landmarks and federal buildings. 

No incidents occurred in the city, but shots were fired into the unoccupied Montgomery County Democratic Committee's headquarters in Norristown. An Eagleville man who claimed the presidential election was stolen from Trump was arrested last month

The latest threat comes nearly two months after pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally near the White House. Five people died in the insurrection, which disrupted the ratification of the Electoral College results. 

Trump was impeached several days later on the charge that he incited the riot. He had addressed the crowd at the rally, repeating baseless accusations of voter fraud and encouraging protesters to march to the Capitol. The Senate acquitted him last month. 

Thousands of National Guard troops have remained in Washington, D.C., since the insurrection to assist law enforcement agencies with crowd management, traffic control and other duties.

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