Experts: Arrests, digital crackdown could deter extremist groups

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Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 3:20 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – An internet crackdown and recent arrests of Kentucky residents who allegedly participated in the riot at the nation’s Capitol could deter extremist group activities.

“They have real concerns about being put in jail, some of the leaders of this movement,” Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) spokesman Michael Edison Hayden said. “They are dissuading people for maybe taking the type of steps that would be required to pull off one of these events.”

Hayden said a crackdown on extremist websites and social media accounts responsible for disseminating inflammatory and false information has made it more difficult for extremists to communicate and plan group actions.

On Sunday, a small group of armed protesters in Frankfort answered a national call for demonstrations at all state Capitols.

Governor Andy Beshear had ordered the Capitol closed and everyone left peacefully amid a strong police presence.

“I do think that right-wing protesters are going to have a harder time pulling into their protests more sort of rank and file people,” University of Kentucky Political Science Associate Professor Stephen Voss said, “(these are) people who aren’t that hard-core now that they’re seeing the consequences of protests in DC.”

Kentucky State Police (KSP) did not provide details on their plans to provide security at the Capitol going forward.

“In the coming days and weeks we will remain focused and diligent,” KSP Public Affairs Commander Sgt. Billy Gregory said in a text, “and (we) will be prepared to respond as needed.”

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