(CLEVELAND) — The nation’s top counterterrorism officials warned lawmakers Thursday that radical activists drawn to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, next week could mar otherwise peaceful demonstrations with violence.
“I am concerned about the prospect of demonstrations getting out of hand, and concerned about the possibility of violence,” Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told the House Homeland Security Committee Thursday. “We have to be concerned about things getting out of hand, definitely.”
FBI Director James Comey agreed, saying, “It’s a threat we’re watching very, very carefully.
“There is a concern anytime there’s an event like [a national convention] that people from across a spectrum of radical groups will be attracted to it,” Comey added, noting a particular “risk” from domestic terrorists and insisting that the FBI is “watching it closely.”
Johnson said the Department of Homeland Security alone is sending about 3,000 personnel to Cleveland, including personnel from the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Coast Guard. A similar contingent will be going to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention the following week, according to Johnson.
In addition to the DHS personnel, thousands of other federal authorities and thousands of state and local authorities will be helping to protect each convention, Johnson said.
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