“Many of you are wondering if there are credible threats here in Los Angeles County, and the answer is no,” L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Tuesday on the eve of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States in a massively militarized Washington, D.C.
“Right now there is no credible threat,” Villanueva added at a windy downtown press conference with Mayor Eric Garcetti and officials from the LAPD, FBI and other law enforcement in socially distanced attendance. “But regardless of that, our mission is to act as if there was one. We are prepared.”
During the event, Garcetti, a Biden inaugural co-chair and political protégé of the ex-Veep, lamented the Donald Trump-inspired attack on Congress on January 6 by the incumbent’s supporters and welcomed that it ultimately “failed.” He also said in a “coordinated response” by law enforcement will see National Guard troops standing by if needed tomorrow or in the days that follow in L.A. “I want to be clear, if you are planning violence here in Los Angeles, you will be stopped,” Garcetti said. “Our guard is up …so you can breathe in the democracy.”
The remarks come as Washington, D.C. and the rest of the nation prepares for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ swearing-in Wednesday in the national capital fortressed from possible far-right attacks. In a city and county already under semi-lockdown because of the deadly coronavirus, both Villanueva and LAPD Chief Michel Moore repeated that they respected people’s First Amendment rights to protest, but recommend everyone stay home and watch the inauguration on TV.
Still, there will be a “significant” LASD and LAPD presence on the streets starting tonight, a law enforcement source tells Deadline. “We are on high alert and we’re going to make sure people know it,” the source said. The LASD’s Special Operations Division, plus hazardous materials teams, canine units and tactical bomb technicians are among the units deployed, officials confirmed.
Newly arrived Assistant Director in Charge of FBI Los Angeles Kristi Johnson told the gathering that things seemed calm so far in the counties of L.A., Orange, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Ventura that are within her jurisdiction.
Yet today’s press conference comes as an armored military Humvee was stolen from a National Guard Armory in the city of Bell, CA on January 15, raising concerns that any potential insurgent attack on Biden, Harris or the institutions of American democracy could come from law enforcement, military personnel or those posing as them.
Using the false premise that the election was stolen from Trump, the former Celebrity Apprentice host, MAGA groups have stated that they plan to be out in D.C., state capitals and big cities on Inauguration Day to prevent Biden and Harris from taking office. More than 25,000 vetted National Guard troops from various states have been stationed in Washington for a heavily protected inauguration. The semi-virtual ceremony was already going to be unique due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the death toll in America surpass 400,000 today.
As the security measures tighten in D.C., the FBI L.A. office has offered a $10,000 reward for any tips on Humvee’s location.
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) January 19, 2021