Madison police are bracing for potential unrest ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday but say they are unaware of any specific threats to public safety.
The FBI has warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols and in Washington, D.C., in the days leading up to the inauguration.
“There are no specific direct threats to Madison or anything in Madison,” acting Police Chief Vic Wahl said Thursday.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said the city is working with outside agencies, including the FBI, to plan a response to any protests or violence like the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five dead and dozens injured.
The mayor said multiple agencies will staff a central command post in order to “respond effectively and efficiently” to any threats.
“I am hoping that the week will pass without incident, but I want Madison residents to know we are prepared,” Rhodes-Conway said.
Wahl told reporters the department is working with other agencies, including state and Capitol police forces, and will maintain “an enhanced staffing posture” through Wednesday that will include tactical, crowd control and traffic teams.
Gov. Tony Evers this week activated an unspecified number of National Guard troops to support “safety and security efforts” at the Capitol.
Wahl and Rhodes-Conway urged residents to be vigilant and to report any unusual or suspicious activity.
“We would much rather investigate things that turn out to be harmless,” Wahl said.
Police are planning for one locally organized event on Sunday, which Wahl said could disrupt traffic flow around Capitol Square.
A group of community organizations is planning a “mutual aid” event Sunday “in opposition to the fascist presence in our local community and across the country.”
Urban Triage, South Central Wisconsin Food Not Bombs and the Madison General Defense Committee of the IWW are hosting the action, which will include a free meal, hot drinks and distribution of warm clothing .
“The groups are calling on community members to join them to make it known that there exists broad community-powered opposition to far-right sieges and power grabs in Wisconsin,” the groups said in an event announcement.
Capitol police announced parking restrictions will be in effect Saturday and Sunday for all driveways and parking stalls around the Capitol. Vehicles that are not moved by midnight Friday evening will be towed.
Madison police are working on a plan to restrict street parking around the square on Sunday.