Despite a continuous stream of warnings that extremists would attack the U.S. Capitol on March 4, the day passed uneventfully and no sieges were carried out in Washington, D.C.
March 4 was in the minds of many as the day came and went, as some people believed that former President Donald Trump would return to power that day. The day stuck out for many, as it was the nation’s inauguration date for most of its first century as a nation.
What are the details?
Following the Jan. 6 incursion at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., many researchers said that there could be possible trouble brewing that would result in yet another attack on the Capitol — and many people took the warnings very seriously.
The House of Representatives on Thursday even canceled its session amid purported threats against the Capitol. Streets were closed. Thousands of National Guardsmen flanked the Capitol in protection. Even the Capitol Police on Wednesday warned that an unnamed militant group was planning to attack on Thursday. In a statement obtained by the New York Times, the force said, “We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4. We are taking the intelligence seriously.”
CNN reported that information, which was provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, warned of “increased chatter among extremists,” including members of the Three Percenters, and which purportedly “discussed possible plots against the Capitol on March 4.”
“The Capitol grounds remained quiet behind black metal fences guarded by heavily armed troops,” the Washington Post reported Thursday. “The apparent quiescence was matched online, where some pro-Trump forums that had fomented and celebrated the Jan. 6 attack dismissed the idea of a March 4 repeat as ridiculous confection — ‘fake news,’ or worse, a trap to ensnare activists who so far have escaped arrest.”
The outlet cited a social media user on Patriots.win — a site, the Post reports, that was accused of playing a “central role in planning ahead of the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.”
The user wrote, “No one is doing anything today. This is a lie the government created to make YOU the bad guy.”
“QAnon-boosting groups on the Telegram chat app have in recent days shared messages saying that anyone going to the Capitol on Thursday ‘IS A LEFTY TERRORIST,'” the outlet noted. “That confusion has been made worse by the disappearance of QAnon’s unnamed prophet, Q. The anonymous figure, who claimed to have a top-secret government clearance and intelligence on Trump’s covert ploys, has not posted online in 86 days.”
A Thursday morning post on a QAnon message board named for the “Great Awakening” added, “Q HAS TOLD US MARCH 4 IS A TRAP (THEREFORE ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS IS NOT US!!).”
The New York Times noted that another social media user on Telegram added, “March 4 is the media’s baby. Nothing will happen.”
What else are people saying about all this?
Rita Katz, executive director of SITE Intelligence Group, did not share the same urgency to prepare for imminent disaster as some entities in the Capitol itself.
“I understand why Congress would want to be cautious, but whatever threat was presented by this conspiracy theory for March 4 wasn’t anywhere near the level for January 6,” Katz told the Post. “Some from QAnon, militia groups, and far-right circles have even advised going to D.C.”
Eric Feinberg, who is vice president for content moderation for the Coalition for a Safer Web, added, “Without Trump, there’s no leader here. This thing, it’s a joke.”
Joel Finkelstein, co-founder of the Network Contagion Research Institute, said that people were “overreacting” and said that extremists may have “embraced their power to disrupt ordinary events in Washington” by simply voicing threats in public online forums and on message boards.
“They’re going to get us chasing our tails everywhere,” he said. “It’s going to make us more vulnerable.”