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San Diego Leaders Plan for Quiet Inauguration Day, Remote Meetings As Planned

The entrance to the San Diego County Administration building in this file pho...

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: The entrance to the San Diego County Administration building in this file photo taken Dec. 13, 2020.

With no specific threats reported locally regarding the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, San Diego leaders have not changed or canceled meetings on Wednesday — partly because no major meetings are scheduled — while FBI officials said Friday they are operating a command post to gather intelligence and coordinate with other law enforcement agencies.

Coming off a legislative recess as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day through Tuesday, the San Diego City Council will have two committees meet remotely: the Budget & Government Efficiency Committee at 10 a.m. and the Rules Committee at 2 p.m.

According to Jordan Beane, spokesman for Council President Jennifer Campbell, the meetings will proceed as scheduled.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors also has no meeting Wednesday. The Board meets every other week.

Some other cities did not have as favorable a schedule and had more reason to believe credible threats from right-wing insurrectionists.

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez on Friday canceled Wednesday's City Council meeting and urged City Hall staff to work remotely amid threats of violence surrounding the inauguration.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, reminded his constituents Friday to be vigilant but to be prepared for work after the inauguration.

"Security failures are being investigated, the House impeached President Trump again and now, a heavy National Guard presence is seen in Washington, D.C. ahead of President-elect Biden's inauguration," he said. "We're still appalled and saddened by the violence seen on January sixth, but as the dust settles, we must remember that a great deal of work lies ahead."

San Diego County's top state and federal prosecutors warned this week any violence within the county related to inauguration-related protests would result in prosecution.

The joint statement from San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan and U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer was issued in connection with an FBI warning that armed protests were being planned at state capitols across the country in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration.

Though no specific threats have been identified in the San Diego area, the FBI is monitoring the possibility of armed protests and resulting unrest leading up to inauguration day, a local representative of the federal agency said Tuesday.

The FBI has sent a memo to authorities across the country, warning of the potential for armed protests at all 50 state capitols starting this week and lasting through Inauguration Day on Wednesday. The memo also stated that the agency had received information about an armed group intending to travel to Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

Friday afternoon, the San Diego office of the federal investigative body asserted in a prepared statement that it was "maintaining a heightened posture to monitor for any emerging threats to our area of responsibility and throughout the country."

"We are focused on identifying, investigating and disrupting individuals who were involved in the siege of the U.S. Capitol and/or those who may continue to incite violence and engage in criminal activity here locally and throughout the United States," the agency's statement says. "To that end, FBI San Diego is running a command post to gather intelligence and coordinate with our law enforcement partners on potential threats. We also have special agents, bomb technicians, the FBI Evidence Response Team, tactical teams, intelligence teams and others to support investigations and counter any potential threat of violence to federal buildings and our shared community."

The FBI urged anyone with information about "any potential violence at any upcoming protest or event" to contact the FBI immediately, saying the agency "cannot be successful without the help of the American people as we work to fulfill our mission — (to) protect the American people and uphold the U.S. Constitution."

Earlier this week, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department reported that it had "no intelligence or information of any (local) threats."

At San Diego Police Department headquarters, Chief David Nisleit has been "in daily contact with local, state and federal law enforcement leaders" in the period leading up to next week's change of presidential administrations in the nation's capital, an SDPD spokesman said.

"There are no known threats to San Diego as we approach Inauguration Day," public affairs Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said Friday afternoon. "If demonstrations do occur, the department will always facilitate peaceful protests so that community members' voices can be heard. Violent actions will not be tolerated."

A 35-year-old San Diego woman, Ashli Babbitt, was killed when rioters stormed the Capitol building Jan. 6 in an attempt to block Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory. The Air Force veteran was shot by a Capitol police officer while climbing through the busted-out window of a door to the Speaker's Lobby.

That same day, a group of pro-Trump demonstrators gathered outside the County Administration Center in San Diego to protest the presidential election results. The contingent, which grew to include about 300 people, proceeded peacefully before dispersing in the evening, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

It was a different story, however, three days later, when three people were arrested during a clash between supporters and critics of President Donald Trump near Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. Two adults were expected to be charged with failure to disperse, while a juvenile was accused of assaulting a peace officer, according to San Diego police.

During the dueling Saturday afternoon protests, five officers were assaulted, suffering minor injuries, and a window on a business was smashed by an unidentified vandal, police said.

Anyone witnessing a crime in progress or immediate danger was advised to call 911, but those who have information about unlawful violent actions, or has information about the Capitol violence case was urged to submit relevant information, photos or videos to fbi.gov/USCapitol or call 1-800-CALL-FBI to verbally report tips and/or information.

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