Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said his department and law enforcement partners are ready for Saturday’s “Justice for J6” protest in support of jailed rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Manger said at a press briefing Friday that D.C. National Guard troops would be available if the rally — expected to end around 1:15 p.m. in Union Square, on the west side of the Capitol — goes longer than anticipated.
“If it goes longer, for whatever reason, we could call them to help us secure the perimeter of the Capitol,” Manger said of the National Guard members who will be at the D.C. Armory. “No, we’re not asking for them to be armed,” he added.
The organization Look Ahead America — led by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign employee — requested a permit for up to 700 people to demonstrate at noon. They are seeking to support imprisoned insurrectionists whom Braynard has described as “political prisoners.”
If any groups decide to breach the fence or attack law enforcement, Manger said, “we’ll be ready.”
A Capitol Police intelligence assessment observed that the department and other law enforcement agencies are seeing increasing violent online chatter about the protest. The far-right website 4chan has calls to “do justice” against “local jews and corrupted officials.”
Further, users on the site say the demonstration should be an avenue for violent acts against local “Jewish centers and Liberal churches” while law enforcement is distracted.
The memo from Sept. 7 identified counterprotest groups.
Remora House DC put out an alert that states, “Fascists coming back to DC Sept. 18 for a rally at Union Square Plaza (west Capitol grounds) to support Capitol rioters that have been arrested … More details on how to get involved coming soon.” DC Youth Liberation Front has also shared a call for counterprotesters.
Clashes between the pro-insurrectionist group and the counterdemonstrators are top of mind for Manger.
“What we’re concerned about, I think more than anything, is the possibility of counterdemonstrators making it to this demonstration, and there being violence between those two groups,” Manger said, adding that D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III will ensure that his force keeps the protesters and counterprotesters separate.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III earlier on Friday approved a request from the Capitol Police Board to provide 100 members of the D.C. National Guard to support the Capitol Police. The guard troops “will be stationed at the D.C. Armory as a Physical Security Task Force to augment law enforcement for the September 18th demonstration on Capitol Hill,” a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement.
Other law enforcement entities will be on hand to support the Capitol Police, including the Arlington County, Va., and Montgomery County, Md., police departments, both of which will be sending officers.
“Should the Capitol Police require assistance, they will first utilize local, state, and Federal law enforcement capabilities before requesting the deployment of the Physical Security Task Force,” the DOD statement added. “The task force will only be deployed upon request of the Capitol Police to help protect the U.S. Capitol Building and Congressional Office buildings by manning building entry points and verifying credentials of individuals seeking access to the building.”
With the House and Senate both out of session on a weekend day, the Capitol campus will be largely empty. Earlier in the week, House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker wrote to members and staff, strongly encouraging them to avoid Capitol grounds. He reiterated that guidance in a Friday letter.
“Unless required to be onsite, Members and staff are strongly encouraged to avoid the U.S. Capitol Complex on September 18th,” Walker wrote.
Congressional offices took precautionary steps, with some encouraging or mandating remote work in the days leading up to the protest.
Former President Donald Trump issued a statement Thursday supporting the jailed insurrectionists that could attract more protesters to the event.
“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election,” Trump said. “In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!”