Security around the US Capitol has been stepped up as government officials warn of the possibility of violence this weekend. Here is what you need to know about the planned rally and why officials are worried about the potential of violence.
Just two days ahead of the rally, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told law enforcement officials that they have become aware of “recent online threats of violence” in connection with the upcoming Saturday rally outside of the US Capitol. These threats include the encouragement of violence on Friday as well as Saturday.Read More »
About the Rally
The “Justice for J6” rally has a goal of supporting the insurrectionists that have been charged in the January 6 riots at the Capitol. Organizers of the rally say that it will begin at noon ET on Saturday, September 18. Up to 700 people are expected to attend the rally. The event is scheduled to take place at Union Square, the area surrounding the Capitol complex.
The rally is the brainchild of the nonprofit organization known as Look Ahead America. This group is led by Matt Braynard, once a campaign worker for former President Donald Trump. According to the Look Ahead America website, the group is “dedicated to standing up for patriotic Americans who have been forgotten by our government.”
While it has not been confirmed by Look Ahead America, there are online reports that some members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys may be in attendance at the rally. These groups have a history of being involved in events such as the Capitol breach last January. According to the DHS briefing, the attorney representing Ashli Babbit, who passed away during the riots, was also invited to speak at the rally. There is no confirmation that this lawyer will be speaking, however, the invitation is an indication of the premise of the rally.
In addition, there is news that the White Lives Matter group is also planning demonstrations that day. This group has historically been supportive of the insurrectionists.
More About the Bulletin
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The bulletin issued by the DHS told law enforcement partners that social media users have talked about storming the Capitol on Friday night, leading up to Saturday’s rally. One social media user also mentioned a plot to kidnap a member of Congress. The good news is that Congress is currently on recess with no members expected to be in the Capitol over the weekend.
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The DHS bulletin also referred to threats of violence toward local Jewish groups, various elected officials, and churches with left-leaning biases.
The intelligence briefing also mentioned that a counter-rally is being planned for the same day at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. The “Unite the Right 2” rally will be happening at the same time only about one mile from the event at the Capitol. This worries officials that there could be the potential for violence between the two competing groups of thought.
Security to Increase as a Result of Bulletin
The US Capitol Police requested the reinstallation of fencing around the perimeter of the facility in advance of the rally. This is the same type of fencing that was put up around the Capitol after the January 6 deadly riots. While the fencing was eventually removed, the threat of more violence led the police department to request that the security be reinstated.
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The Capitol Police also said that they are issuing an emergency declaration in effect for the day of the rally. This emergency declaration will allow the police department to use outside law enforcement officers by deputizing them as official United States Capitol Police Special Officers.
Recommendations for Residents
Law enforcement officers are advising residents and visitors to the nation’s capital to avoid this area on Friday and Saturday. Officers caution that even though the crowds will likely not rival the riots on January 6, there is always a chance that an event such as this could instigate trouble. However, officials are confident that the added security measures will work to prevent another deadly attack.
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