Law enforcement officials stepped up security measures in the days leading up to Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally on Capitol Hill, making progress to prevent cases of violence similar to those seen in the riot. January 6, 2021, when pro-Trump protesters stormed the building in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election results.
The Department of Homeland Security and Capitol Police recently issued warnings of threats of online violence linked to the event in support of rioters who remain in jail for their involvement in the attack on Capitol Hill. Former Trump campaign staff Matt Braynard – the organizer of the event, who called the incarcerated “political prisoners” – said he believed around 700 people would attend.
More than 600 people have been charged in connection with the Jan.6 siege, which left several dead, including the death of Capitol Hill police officer Brian Sicknick.
A Homeland Security Intelligence report obtained by the Associated Press warned that social media posts of potential participants included threats to kidnap “an identified member of Congress” in addition to “other references to the violence identified on social media, including discussions about using the rally to target locals. Jewish institutions, elected officials and “liberal churches”.
The report also noted social media posts that discussed rioters attempting to storm the Capitol the day before the rally. Participants are expected to include members of extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, according to intelligence reports.
Security gaps that led rioters to enter the building in January raised bipartisan concerns about law enforcement preparedness for significant threats. But Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said on Friday that the USCP and the DC Metropolitan Police Department are better equipped this time around, having received “adequate police resources, training materials. “and staff before the event.
“There were threats of violence associated with this event tomorrow. We have a solid plan in place to make sure it stays peaceful, and if violence does occur, we can stop it as quickly as possible. We are not going to tolerate violence, “he said at a press conference on Friday.
“We will not tolerate any criminal behavior of any kind. The American public and members of Congress expect us to protect the Capitol. I am convinced that the plan we have put in place will allow us to meet this expectation. ”
Security fences and barriers similar to those put in place after the attack have been reinstalled around the Capitol, and police departments in Arlington County, Va., And Montgomery County, Md. , send reinforcements for the event.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved the Capitol Police’s request that 100 DC National Guard soldiers be available for assistance if needed.
“Today [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] approved a request by the Capitol Hill Police Board to provide 100 members of the Washington, DC National Guard who will be stationed at the DC Armory as a physical security task force this weekend to strengthen enforcement of the law over the weekend covering this Sept. 18 demonstration on Capitol Hill, “Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed at a press briefing, noting that they will be” strictly disarmed. ”
“The DC National Guard will be joining a number of local law enforcement agencies to support the Capitol Police. If the Capitol Police need assistance, they will use local, state and federal law enforcement capabilities first before requesting the deployment of the Physical Security Task Force. The task force will only be deployed at the request of the Capitol Police to help protect the United States Capitol building and congressional office buildings by equipping the building’s entry points and screening people. seeking access to the building. “
Manger said he was working with DC Police Chief Robert Contee to ensure that counter-protests remain safe and separate from the gathering to reduce the risk of violence.
“What concerns us, I think more than anything, is the possibility that counter-demonstrators will come to this demonstration, and that there is violence between these two groups,” he said.
As law enforcement braces for hundreds of potentially violent protesters, the DHS report said a number of protesters attempting to rewrite the events of January 6 “claimed online the event is a “false flag planned by authorities to target potential attendees for arrest and encouraged like-minded people not to attend.” ”
Congressional leaders were briefed by Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker on security preparations on Monday, just hours after authorities arrested a man for possession of prohibited weapons, including a bayonet and machete outside the headquarters of the DNC after noticing Nazi and white supremacist symbols on his truck. It is still unclear whether he should attend the event.
“They seemed very, very well prepared, much better prepared than before January 6, and I think they are ready for whatever might happen,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said (DN.Y .) to journalists after the briefing.
No sitting lawmaker is expected to attend the event, but two Congressional candidates are expected to speak: Joe Kent, who is challenging Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) For her seat after voting to impeach former President Trump for incitement to riot; and Georgia GOP candidate Mike Collins.
Former President Trump expressed support for the rally ahead of the event, issuing a statement saying, “Our hearts and minds are with those so unjustly persecuted in connection with the January 6 protest over the rigged presidential election. On top of everything else, it has conclusively proven that we are a two tier justice system. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!