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DPS Closes Texas Capitol Grounds, Citing 'Armed Protests' Planned By 'Violent Extremists'

Anticipating violence from armed demonstrators, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it will close the state Capitol grounds ahead of Inauguration Day.

The grounds will be closed Saturday through Wednesday.

In an announcement Friday evening, DPS Director Steve McCraw said the agency was acting out of an "abundance of caution" and that it had been made aware of events planned by "violent extremists" ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

“The Texas Department of Public Safety is aware of armed protests planned at the Texas State Capitol this week and violent extremists who may seek to exploit constitutionally protected events to conduct criminal acts,” McCraw said. “As a result, DPS has deployed additional personnel and resources to the Capitol and are working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Austin Police Department to monitor events and enforce the rule of law.”

In a bulletin to law enforcement this week, the FBI said it expects gatherings of armed demonstrators at all 50 state capitols ahead of Inauguration Day.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler tweeted shortly before DPS announcement that his office "was aware of upcoming gatherings" at the Capitol.

The Austin Police Department told KUT on Friday it had seen unconfirmed reports of "militia or extremist" groups assembling at the state Capitol, and that it would be on alert over the next week.

"APD said it was not aware of any credible threats to the public, but maintains a heightened security posture," a spokesperson said.

Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas Gregg Sofer warned his office would pursue federal charges against Capitol demonstrators who "threaten to harm others, commit acts of violence, destroy property or attack law enforcement."

This is a developing story.

Got a tip? Email Andrew Weber at aweber@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.

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