U.S. Capitol police are warning of some threats of violence at a pro-Donald Trump rally planned for Saturday, in which demonstrators plan to express their support for defendants arrested and charged in the January 6 siege on the complex.
The Justice for J6 rally is expected to draw far-right demonstrators, but Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger told reporters that “we would be foolish not to take seriously the intelligence we have at our disposal. How credible it is, how likely it is, people can make those judgments. But the reality is we are hearing some chatter that I think would be responsible for us to plan the way we have been planning and put the precautions in place.”
Security has been tightened at the Capitol and on its grounds, with a fence reinstalled on Thursday morning. Following the January 6 attack, the fence was installed around the complex and, for a time, extended to nearby streets. The fencing was finally taken down in July.
“We are not going to tolerate violence and we are not going to tolerate criminal behavior of any kind,” Manger said. He said that they also are prepared for clashes between the demonstrators and counter protesters.
The Pentagon has 100 National Guard troops on standby.
Capitol Police said that they have expanded their intelligence gathering since January 6, as questions linger as to why information about the possibility of an effort to breach the Capitol did not reach those in charge of on duty officers that day.
Sean Gallagher, uniformed operations acting assistant chief at the Capitol, said that they have been working with more than 25 other agencies on a “seamless integrated plan” for the weekend. Capitol Police will have on-site support from other agencies.
“We are hoping and expecting a peaceful event this weekend, but our operational plan is scalable so that we will be ready for anything that occurs,” he said.
On Thursday, former President Donald Trump expressed support for those arrested on January 6, calling them “persecuted,” even though they breached the Capitol and vandalized and trashed areas of the building as Congress was validating the results of the presidential election. Some were shown on video assaulting officers. Earlier this month, the so-called Q-Anon Shaman, who wore furs and a horn hat as he stormed the Capitol and the Senate floor, pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of a federal proceeding, a felony, in a plea deal with prosecutors.
Trump also has claimed that the event on Saturday was a “setup” meant to embarrass his supporters.
He told The Federalist, “If people don’t show up they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s a lack of spirit.’ And if people do show up they’ll be harassed.” NBC News reported earlier this week that extremist groups are claiming that the rally is a “false flag” event meant to entrap people, even though there is no evidence that is the case.
The circumstances for the rally also will be different in that Congress will not be in session.
Networks already had taken precautions to cover the January 6 protest, including having a private security officer accompanying a crew. The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press issued an advisory on what journalists should do to cover the protest.
— Freedom of the Press (@FreedomofPress) September 17, 2021
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