When it permanently suspended the president from its platform on Friday, Twitter cited a threat for potential violence this weekend: a call for armed marches on state capitols nationwide.

But it’s unclear if any such rally—called for at noon on January 17 on online messaging boards popular with extremists—will materialize in Raleigh.

Raleigh Police Department spokesperson Donna-maria Harris told the INDY that no permits have been requested or issued for either January 17 or Inauguration Day on January 20, but she wouldn’t comment directly on whether the department is aware of specific potential threats or demonstrations.

“I cannot confirm if RPD is aware of protests,” Harris said in an email. “I can say that we are constantly researching and looking for intelligence.”

In response to several questions from the INDY about what, if any, preparations Raleigh police are making following the attack on the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, Harris offered another general reply. 

“In the best interest of public safety, and in compliance with NCGS 132-1.7, the Raleigh Police Department does not release information about security arrangements/tactical strategies,” she wrote. “However, it can be said that Department personnel who are responsible for security and logistical planning consider and evaluate many factors, including events that have occurred elsewhere, as they make safety and staffing decisions.”

Erik A. Hooks, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Safety, issued a similar statement through a spokesperson on January 12.

“It is not prudent to comment on specific security initiatives, however, be assured the Department of Public Safety remains extremely vigilant in its public safety efforts,” he wrote. “Our law enforcement entities are engaged with our local, state, and federal partners to identify and address a myriad of public safety threats. The necessary work of the state and federal governments continues and I am grateful to our outstanding law enforcement professionals for their service.”

Hooks didn’t directly answer whether DPS is aware of any plans for an armed march in Raleigh this weekend or other specific threats or potential incidents.

As the INDY previously reported, state law makes it illegal for “any person participating in [a] demonstration upon … any public place” to “willfully or intentionally possess or have immediate access to any dangerous weapons.” In theory, any armed protest march would therefore be illegal. But that didn’t stop heavily armed far-right extremists from parading through downtown Raleigh last spring. (At the time, Raleigh police claimed the group didn’t qualify as protesters, but we called bullshit.)

Jordan Green, the senior editor at our sister paper Triad City Beat who’s reported extensively on the far right in North Carolina, told the INDY that after several days of research, he hadn’t found a single post about a planned armed march in our state. (Disclosure: Green and I are longtime former colleagues.)

In a recent report entitled “North Carolina extremists pledge to escalate beyond D.C. insurrection,” Green chronicled the role far-right figures from North Carolina played in last week’s coup attempt. Several individuals he identified live in the Triangle area, including Proud Boy Bill Whicker III of Hillsborough, apparent QAnon follower and Trump supporter Joshua Pennington of Burlington, and Proud Boy Ryan Barry of Clayton.

They’re part of a network of far-right extremists in the state that has often attended protests across the Triangle, but their online activity on Parler and other sites doesn’t discuss any plans for an armed march this weekend, Green said. The Triangle is home to other reactionaries, of course, including N.C. State employee and alleged Proud Boy Chadwick Seagraves, among others. Green reported on Monday that the university won’t take action against Seagraves, stating it couldn’t confirm his involvement in “malicious online activities,” as had been alleged in a lawsuit against him. 

Megan Squire, an Elon University professor and expert on far-right extremism, has closely monitored calls for armed right-wing extremist marches in state capitols on January 17 since November. Squire identified a collection of nationwide calls to action, as well as several for specific cities such as Austin and Atlanta. But she told the INDY this week that she had yet to see any specific calls for Raleigh or elsewhere in North Carolina.

Squire shared several of the graphics she’s found in a Twitter thread. The language is often vague, with no specific group taking credit.

“When democracy is destroyed, refuse to be silenced,” one reads. “Over two hundred years ago, our founding fathers fought for the rights and liberties of this nation. Don’t let their efforts be in vain. Demand freedom. End the corruption. Stand up for liberty.”

The same flier explicitly says “Armed march on all state capitols,” adding “Come armed at your personal discretion.”

Another flier appropriates pro-choice language and reads: “My body my choice! We do NOT need laws to define what we can/cannot do with our bodies.” It includes icons of a uterus, weed leaf, and a face mask. Like several other calls, it’s signed, “Brought to you by nonpartisan common folk who are tired of being tread upon.”

The language on some of the fliers seems to be intentionally non-ideological, as if it could’ve been written by someone on the far left or far right (or, for that matter, a Russian troll factory). One that doesn’t mention weapons reads, “We the people do not represent any political party, organization, specific group, religion. We exist to unite the American people… when no one else will.” It ends with the same call to action and signature.

It’s hard not to look at the fliers in totality and think they’re created to draw a wide segment of politically disparate people to the same location, possibly with no other aim than to create chaos

Ironically, one piece of propaganda that Squire dug up quotes Edward Bernays, author of a seminal book called Propaganda that’s blurbed by Noam Chomsky on Amazon. Bernays has been credited with promoting the term “public relations,” a more palatable phrase than “propaganda.”

It certainly makes you wonder who created this collection of fliers, which seem to be coordinated even if they don’t originate at a single source. A separate flier sent to the INDY that doesn’t appear in Squire’s thread uses the same language.

One flier the Elon researcher found depicts a Revolutionary War era soldier brandishing a musket surrounded by colorful lightning bolts. A flier for Atlanta is more explicit, featuring an assault rifle, calling for a “2nd Amendment liberty walk,” incorporating language about militias, and emblazoned with the far-right’s beloved Gadsden flag “don’t tread on me” snake and motto. A third flier portrays the Boston Tea Party and says “Taxation without representation is theft. This is what our Founding Fathers went to war over.”

None explicitly reference Trump, the presidential election, specific organizations, or use slogans like “Stop the Steal.”

Given the generic nature of the fliers and the vague statement offered by local law enforcement, it’s unclear if anybody is planning a specific protest in Raleigh or elsewhere in the state. But, considering last week’s coup attempt, it’d be wise not to dismiss the potential threat entirely.

Update (January 13, 4:15 p.m.): Governor Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday that he would mobilize “approximately 350 National Guard personnel for duty here in North Carolina”—naming Raleigh specifically—as well as an additional 550 Guard personnel for added security in Washington, D.C.

Guard members in the nation’s capitol “will not be operating as front-line law enforcement” but will be providing site security, establishing checkpoints, and protecting critical infrastructure,” Cooper said in a press release.

“Ongoing security concerns in Washington, D.C. and state capitals around the nation following last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol must be taken seriously, and I will deploy necessary resources to keep North Carolinians safe,” Cooper said. “I have spoken with state and federal authorities and thank the men and women of the North Carolina National Guard for their continued service to our state and nation.”

The press release doesn’t elaborate on what role the 350 North Carolina National Guard personnel will play in Raleigh other than describing their mission as “beginning this weekend to support state and local authorities and protect the well-being of residents, property, and the right to peacefully assemble and protest.”

Follow Interim News Editor Eric Ginsburg on Twitter or send an email to eginsburg@indyweek.com.

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