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DHS tracked down proud boys before the Capitol Rebellion

Amanda Andrade-Rhodes for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Members of the proud boys who gather in front of the US Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021.

A day before a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, National Security officials warned that “domestic extremists”

; would take part in rallies in support of Trump scheduled for January 6. Authorities actively monitored far-right groups such as the Proud Boys, as well as Facebook events with thousands of confirmed participants, some of whom explicitly outlined plans for a congressional rally and a Capitol rally.

Nevertheless, leaders insist there is no intelligence that federal facilities will be targeted, according to a cache of internal documents from the Federal Security Service’s Homeland Security Service.

“There is no intelligence / information to indicate that FPS-protected federal facilities will be targeted this week, but a number of federal facilities are in the expected protest area and we will be prepared to respond if necessary,” Richard Chris Klein , The deputy director of FPS said on January 5 an email with the subject “Preparation for Wednesday protests.”

Details on the 81 pages of edited documents, which include emails, photos and intelligence bulletins, shed more light on how closely federal security officials monitored the activities of extremist groups and Trump supporters across the United States in the days leading up to the deadly uprising. Although police in the US Capitol were not prepared for the violent mob, documents show that Homeland Security officials had information that tens of thousands of Trump supporters would gather at the National Mall and focus specifically on the Proud Boys. they will even list the hotel where they were staying. In DHS communications, officials shared dozens of events on Facebook, including some of the battle groups, and wrote that they expected groups to march to the Capitol.

Retrieved from BuzzFeed News via FOIA

A photo emailed by a Federal Security Service official shows the crowd gathering in Ellipse for a speech by then-President Donald Trump.

Now under new leadership, DHS promises to work with local law enforcement and other agencies to improve its ability to deal with domestic extremist threats in the future.

“The lessons learned from the violent and illegal events of January 6 will help improve our ability to stop future acts of violence. DHS is involved in investigations in response to the attack and is internally reviewing how best to improve the exchange of information on threats, “a spokesman told BuzzFeed News. “Under the leadership of the Mayor of Mallorca, tackling domestic violent extremism is a top priority for DHS.”

BuzzFeed News received the documents at the request of the Freedom of Information Act. The Agency retains some of the information in the documents, citing a number of exceptions, including ongoing law enforcement investigations, privacy and possible threats to individuals, such as law enforcement officials or informants, if details are disclosed. The Washington Post also reported on Wednesday.

The Federal Security Service is a law enforcement and security agency within DHS that protects 9,500 federal properties across the country, though not the Capitol building itself. The little-known agency, which has about 1,300 full-time and 13,000 security guards, attracted national attention and discontent after sending officers to Portland, Oregon, in the midst of summer protests against racial justice under then-President Donald Trump’s Direction. Its director, L. Eric Patterson, also made the unusual move by giving officials from other agencies within DHS the power to join the protest without proper training, according to a critical report from the Inspector General’s Office, causing chaos and violence such as they clashed with protesters, injured several and used marked cars to rob and detain others.

Although an email from the FPS said there was no information on January 6 about a threat to federal buildings, reports involving senior FPS officials said the Proud Boys and other extremist groups would join DC along with thousands of Trump supporters across the United States. . They planned to protest against the stolen election, and also had plans to head to the Capitol to face Congress.

On January 3, the department’s regional director said in an email to leaders that numerous permits approved by the National Park Service and sold-out hotels indicated that there would be “large crowds.” Among the “large number” of protesters expected, the director listed “Proud Boys and” many other smaller groups. ” The director also noted the Capitol as a gathering place for Trump supporters, although he noted that “we do not expect any threats against federal facilities based on the nature of this event.”

Then, on January 5, the FPS investigative branch prepared a detailed newsletter, which was distributed to law enforcement agencies of the National Capital, the General Services Administration and other departments within DHS, warning of potentially violent threats related to the rallies of 6 January.

“Domestic extremists, which include anarchist extremists, anti-government extremists and racially motivated violent extremists, are likely to participate in protected First Amendment activities and use activities as an opportunity to promote their ideologies and motivate followers to promote violence,” the statement said. bulletin.

Retrieved from BuzzFeed News via FOIA

Authorities arrested four protesters that night for possession of a weapon and for “disorder” around Black Lives Matter Square, an email said. National Security officers also found and cleared protesters trying to sleep in their cars near the National Mall. In an email sent on the morning of January 6, the regional director once again noted that they expect “large groups” in the US Capitol for the joint session of Congress at 1 pm to certify the election results. The FPS is tracking three major rallies, he wrote, two of which had plans to head to the Capitol when Congress began its session.

FPS officials had already combed social media to follow and monitor Trump supporters’ plans to gather in DC that day. In emails and intelligence bulletins shared with the National Operations Center and National Security Guard staff, FPS staff outlined dozens of events on Facebook and other posts that explicitly detailed which groups planned to attend rallies, where they came from and met. how many people had RSVP’d. Their lists include groups coming by bus from places like Ohio and New Jersey. A note from Homeland’s intelligence gathering guide, known as the Joint Command Center for Strategic and Tactical Analysis, cataloged 29 election protests scheduled in DC in January 6 alone.

For example, a March event in Congress involved 1,200 people and 5,000 stakeholders. Million MAGA March / Stop the Steal rally had 2300 interested. U.S. Capitol police also signaled demonstrations and shared them with federal partners, one of which was planned for the Capitol’s eastern front to urge Congress to vote against fraudulent election certification.

On the day of the attack, FPS officers continued to discuss the crowds and sent briefings to Proud Boys groups and embarrassing potential threats. In a lunch note sent to FPS leaders and the FBI’s National Crisis Coordination Center, the commander counted “300 proud boys in the US Capitol” and added that they were “trying to stop the downtown water system, which includes government facilities. “

There were about 25,000 people around the White House at the time, and due to bag restrictions, “people are hiding bags in the bushes around the building.” In emails, federal security officials tracked the movements of thousands of protesters, as well as militia groups and people “in riot gear” as they moved through the area. The DC Metropolitan Police also reacted to a man carrying a rifle at one point.

“Approximately 200 people representing the Proud Boys are in Union Square,” read an 11:13 update. A minute later, an FPS employee posted a screenshot of a tweet stating that “a contingent of proud boys.” parted from the main crowd “and walked down the mall to the Capitol.”

Retrieved from BuzzFeed News via FOIA

Retrieved from BuzzFeed News via FOIA

Exactly an hour later, the officer updated his command: “POTUS encourages protesters to march to the capital and continue to protest there.” Shortly afterwards, at 12:28 p.m., he sent another e-mail: “The 10-15,000 protesters moving to the capital down Pennsylvania, Constitution and Madison.”

At 12:57 a.m., a large group broke the American police barricade from the Capitol.

As crowds began to march around the National Mall and head for the Capitol, security guards watched their streams live, sending screenshots of Trump supporters first standing on federal monuments and then storming the Capitol. Officials then sent numerous emails for an hour about the protests.

At 1:45 p.m., as soon as Congress began its session, an FPS official sent two screenshots from Capitol Square showing a sea of ​​American flags showing Trump supporters breaking past barricades to stand and sit on that which seems to be the monument of peace.

Retrieved from BuzzFeed News via FOIA

Photos emailed by Federal Security officials showing rebels in the western U.S. Capitol

In the same email thread for protesters swarming the Capitol, an FPS officer responded with a “great photo” of a photo that was edited due to privacy concerns.

Another partially edited image from 2:26 p.m. shows about seven faces, mostly with red hats, curling up the stairs to the Capitol. At the time, updates for FSP leaders came quickly and urgently, showing how quickly the rebels overpowered the police force and flooded the building. “Multiple metropolitan police officers report injuries …,” the FPS official wrote.

Retrieved from BuzzFeed News via FOIA

Seen riots to climb the stairs in the US Capitol

At 2:51 p.m., the Federal Security Service sent a small squad to assist the Capitol Police Department, which had already requested “mutual assistance from Maryland and Virginia,” according to records.

At dusk, authorities finally cleared the building of insurgents. In an email sent at 6:00 p.m., an FPS employee asked to know how many of his employees were helping there. The Department of Homeland Security “has 24 support bodies,” they wrote. “I need to know if they include FPS in this issue.”

Three minutes later, the chief replied. There were only 16 FPS officers in the Capitol. ●

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