NEW JERSEY — The threat of Trenton protests on Jan. 17 looms, following a massive insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., last week. Gov. Phil Murphy and Colonel Pat Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said Monday that state authorities are prepared and on high alert.
“We need to bat 1.000 every day. To the governor's point [we] will be prepared, and we trust that if they do show up they do it in a peaceful manner,” said Callahan during an press conference on coronavirus updates. “That's our request… if people do show up to the statehouse, that they go home safely at the end of it.”
Anyone who has information on a potential threat is also encouraged to reach out to the police.
The Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol led to dozens of injuries and the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer who was originally from South River (the state currently has flags at half-staff in his memory).
As his midday briefing got underway, Murphy pulled up an image of two of last Wednesday’s protesters. Men with anti-Semitic sentiments on their T-shirts.
"Take a deeper look at the crowd which overran the capital: neo-Nazi, other symbols of antisemitism, including shirts disgustingly glorifying the Holocaust were present. Just think about that, inside the halls of the United States Capitol in 2021," Murphy said. "Let's just talk about these jerks. On the upper left, 6MWE. If you don't know what that means already, it means '6 million weren't enough.' That's the number, plus or minus -- I suspect it's far more -- of Jews killed during the Holocaust in the Third Reich under the leadership of Adolf Hitler."
"The guy on the right, it says Camp Auschwitz, which as we know is a concentration camp that was located in Poland," the governor said. "I can read the German.... The picture in the middle actually is the front gate at Auschwitz in Poland. Arbeit Macht Frei means work makes you free. These two jerks were at our Capitol last Wednesday, and they were among many other jerks who were there."
I did not know when we were here last Wednesday at one o'clock when I said -- and by the way, as we sit here, our Republic is in the balance. Please say a prayer for our country. I think you can look that up on the tape. I was not aware of what was about to happen. But that's indeed what did happen. - Gov. Phil Murphy
“So in addition to the broad stroke condemnation of all that happened, let us be very mindful of the fact…anti-Semitism in this world, in this country, and sadly, in this state, is alive and well and runs deep,” Murphy said. “That is an extraordinary set of images to anyone who has not spoken out yet against this insurrection last week. This is who your silence is enabling. This is who you are standing with. This is what you are telegraphing to the world that you're okay with representing. These are images from the most violent and radical fringes of the right wing. And when you refuse to denounce what they've done, that's the same as giving them when you excuse their actions, you empower them to try again.”
While the governor acknowledged that protesting is a right, he advised any of his supporters to stay home Jan. 17, as well as Jan. 20 (the day President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated).
“I’ve been asked if you were in the House, would you vote to impeach him? Yes, I would,” Murphy said in reference to Trump. “If I were in the Senate I’d vote to convict him. And if I were in his cabinet, I would join on the 25th amendment…even with only nine days to go. I'm normally a big 'freedom of speech' guy. But I think when you're inciting insurrection and you’re the President of the United States, I think it's a bridge too far.”
During the conference, an FBI bulletin shared by ABC News warned of armed protests planned for all 50 state capitols and the U.S. Capitol.
“As of 10 January, armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin read.