Authorities will be on high alert Thursday over a QAnon conspiracy theory prediction, but according to experts, chances of violence appear minimal compared to the deadly insurrection on Jan. 6.
Some segments of the convoluted theory’s community have been claiming for months that former President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE will return to the White House on March 4, which was the date of presidential inaugurations up until 1933.
While belief that Thursday would mark the triumphant return of QAnon’s figurehead had been building, some influential figures in the community have recently turned back on that prediction.
Influencers backing down from the “real inauguration” theory is especially important, since they have gained more sway in the community after the shadowy “Q” figure stopped posting on image boards in December.
Brian Friedberg, a senior researcher at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, told The Hill that some QAnon adherents are now “skeptical as to origins or validity of [the] theory.”
“Some believe any public gatherings on the 4th to be a trap set for MAGA folk by the MSM/Deep State to draw them out,” he added in an email, referring to the mainstream media.
Even if some QAnon supporters still think that Trump will reassume office, there’s little to suggest they will act on that belief.
“We haven’t seen anything to suggest that there’s any physical, real world mobilization behind that chatter,” Jared Holt, a visiting research fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab, told The Hill.
A memo from the top security official overseeing the House shared with lawmakers this week echoes that the significance of March 4 has “reportedly declined amongst various groups in recent days.”
Capitol Police at this time "has no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence,” acting Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett said in the memo.
Authorities are exercising caution regardless given that QAnon supporters were involved in the Jan. 6 riot and the theory has been deemed a national security threat by the FBI.
Capitol Police will have additional personnel deployed around the Capitol Thursday, according to Blodgett’s memo, and the National Guard will continue supporting local officers.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble House passes sweeping defense policy bill MORE (D-Wash.) suggested during a hearing last month that 4,900 members of the National Guard are extending their stay in D.C. that began ahead of the inauguration in part because of chatter in QAnon communities.
"Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago the president used to be inaugurated on March 4. OK, now why that's relevant, God knows. At any rate, now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4 ... that is circulating online," Smith said.
The fencing that was put up around the Capitol after the insurrection also remains in place.
The Metropolitan Police Department has not issued any permits for planned events on Thursday, a spokesperson told The Hill Tuesday.
The cooling interest hasn’t stopped the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., from jacking up prices around March 4, a tactic also employed around the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Several rooms were still available at the hotel as of Tuesday evening
Although the QAnon community has consistently moved the goalposts on big predictions without too much attrition, another failed prediction could push more believers away from the theory.
QAnon followers had built up Jan. 20 as the day of the “Great Awakening,” where Trump would remain in office and arrest top Democrats for their alleged complicity in child sex trafficking rings.
While many supporters shared dissatisfaction with the failed prediction, others quickly moved on to the next date.