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Tracking extremist groups: ADL says it’s working with law enforcement to thwart threats in Richmond

Thursday, protective measures began going up around the Virginia State Capitol complex.
Thursday, protective measures began going up around the Virginia State Capitol complex.(NBC12)
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 12:29 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The threat that the country and capitals like Richmond are facing did not just come out of thin air. The rush is on for law enforcement to round up those involved in the U.S. Capitol attack and find others who want to do even more harm.

“We have been warning for months about the rising tide, the calls for violence around the election,” said Doron Ezickson, Anti-Defamation League.

It did not start in Charlottesville, but from that failed 2017 Unite the Right rally on, there’s been an undeniable rise in extremist groups.

“From Charlottesville to Capitol Hill we’ve seen a progression of unchallenged white extremists organizing and hate, conspiracy theories, calls to arms that have been propagated by a number of extremist groups,” said Ezickson.

Currently, groups like the Anti-Defamation League are working around the clock with federal, state and local law enforcement to identify bad actors from the attack on the U.S. Capitol and root out any potential threats on the horizon.

“We need to start taking extremists at their word. The chatter continues at this point. They continue to tell us what they plan to do and I think perhaps we’ve now woken up to the fact that we need to take them at their word,” said Ezickson.

The ADL is one of the oldest civil rights and anti-hate groups in America. But that investigative work is now complicated as some of these hate groups have been removed from social media and have moved underground.

“The threat is real. And the worry that exists in our community is real and it didn’t happen overnight. It happened when we started to fall farther and farther from the truth. The truth of election results, the truth of a pandemic, the truth of divisions within our community and what’s the root cause of them,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, (D) 7th District.

Meanwhile, The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police says law enforcement is working on both prevention and protection tactics to keep downtown Richmond from harm.

“Their efforts right now are focused on communications, developing intelligence, making sure that they have resources for the scene,” said Dana Schrad, Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director.

Richmond Police and Mayor Levar Stoney are asking people to stay away from downtown. If you see something on social media that is violent or suspicious, report it.

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