The fencing has gone back up and security is tight at the U.S. Capitol in anticipation of a rally Saturday in support of the hundreds arrested and charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
U.S. Capitol police officers have brought in additional officers and the National Guard is on standby in case the event turns violent.
“We have a strong plan in place to ensure that it remains peaceful,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said at a Friday briefing. “And that, if violence does occur, we can stop at as quickly as possible.”
Congressional leaders were briefed by law enforcement earlier this week and said they feel confident police are better prepared now than they were in January. No members of Congress are expected to attend the rally, which is being called the “Justice for J6 Rally.”
Organizer Matt Braynard, founder of Look Ahead America, said they are only supporting those who were arrested for non-violent actions on Jan. 6. In his permit application, he estimated 700 people would attend and said it will be peaceful.
“We’ve cooperated with the Capitol Police, Park Police, Metropolitan Police,” Braynard said in a recent interview. “We’ve got additional security – a diplomatic security team – to help make the event be smooth.”
Still, police said Friday that there have been threats of violence mixed in with the internet chatter surrounding the event, and so, they are taking nothing for granted, including the notion that demonstrators – or counter-protestors -- will be unarmed.
“In the event we observe individuals in possession of a firearm, we will take police action,” said Robert Contee III, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. “D.C. code expressly prohibits anyone from carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of any first amendment assembly, to include members of the public who have been issued a concealed carry permit in the District of Columbia.”
U.S. Capitol Police said they have been preparing for Saturday’s rally for several weeks.
“The American public and the members of Congress have an expectation that we protect the Capitol,” Manger said. “And I’m confident with the plan we have in place that we’re going to be able to meet that expectation.”
Manger said their mission Saturday, just as it is every day, is to protect everyone’s right to free speech and to allow a lawful demonstration to occur.
If everything does remain peaceful, Manger said the fencing should come back down very quickly.