100 Nationwide Guard on standby to help Capitol Police throughout pro-Trump rally
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin deployed 100 National Guard troops to guard the Capitol ahead of Saturday’s rally in support of the people indicted against the deadly pro-Trump uprising of Jan. 6.
Hundreds of far-right protesters are expected in the District of Columbia for the Justice For J6 rally, alluding to the January 6th storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump to disrupt the affirmation of Joe Biden as next president.
The 100 National Guard troops will only be deployed at the request of the Capitol Police and will help access points for the Capitol complex, a Pentagon spokesman said Friday. The spokesman added that the troops would only be deployed after the capabilities of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies were tapped.
The USCP has not asked the members of the National Guard to be armed, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger told reporters at a news conference on Friday afternoon.
Manger said the police “heard some chatter” and that “we would be stupid not to take the information available to us seriously”. He noted that prior to the January 6 attack, similar threats “have been shown to be credible, so we are not taking any chances.”
A U.S. Capitol Police officer adjusts security fences outside the U.S. Capitol ahead of a scheduled Justice for J6 rally in Washington, DC, the United States, on Thursday, September 16, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The chief added that “the most likely scenario for violence” is the possibility that the protesters clash with counter-demonstrators. At least three counter-demonstration groups are known to the Capitol Police who want to congregate, one of which is more violent than the other.
Manger also said that some elected officials were invited to the event, but “to my knowledge they all declined”.
Rally organizer Matt Braynard did not immediately respond when asked which elected officials were invited to the event.
“We hope and expect a peaceful event this weekend, but our operational plan is scalable so we are ready to handle whatever happens,” deputy deputy chief Sean Gallagher told the press.
In the past few days, police have been increasing security around the Capitol, building fences around the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and other Congress office buildings.
Metropolitan Police Department chief Robert Contee told reporters Friday that local and federal security partners have carefully planned the upcoming rally.
“Our department increased its staff today and is fully activated for tomorrow. So you will notice an increased police presence across the city to ensure the safety of everyone in the entire district,” said Contee.
Manger said that while approval for the rally required 700 people to attend, it was not clear if all of those people would attend.
The Transportation Security Administration has announced that travelers arriving at Regan National Airport in Virginia will face increased security in the run-up to the rally.
“Travelers will notice increased law enforcement and dog presence, as well as a generally higher awareness of the TSA’s intelligence, risk-based approach to transportation security,” a TSA spokesman told Reuters.
On January 6, at a rally in front of the White House, Trump encouraged thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol to protest the historic ceremonial processes.
Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the electoral college vote count, was ousted from the Senate when the Capitol complex was locked down when Trump supporters began pouring into the building.
House Speaker Pence, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa – all on the line of presidential succession – were moved to safe locations.
The joint session resumed hours after the Capitol was cleared by the mob, and Biden’s victory was confirmed.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick collapsed hours after being attacked by rioters and died the day after the riot. Four police officers who responded to the riot have died of suicide since the attack.
Trump, who was charged by the House of Representatives for inciting the Capitol on Jan. 6, said in a statement Thursday that he condemned the prosecution of his supporters who were part of the mob that invaded the Capitol.