Officials didn’t provide details on the potential number of National Guard troops that could be deployed, although Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Sept. 15 that “it is not an exorbitant ask. It’s not of a particularly large size or major capability. I think it’s more in the form of some manpower support.”
“We have received a request from Capitol Police for some assistance for this weekend’s protests, scheduled protests. I’m not going to detail the specific request,” he said. “We’re doing the analysis, we are in receipt of it, we’re analyzing it, and if it can be validated and supported, we’ll do that and we’ll look at the sourcing inside the department as to what’s most appropriate.”
The request comes as organizers expect hundreds of people to attend the “Justice for J6” event on Sept. 18, which is expected to take place in Union Square between 1st and 3rd streets at 12 p.m., according to the group’s website. The rally is being organized by Look Ahead America, a nonprofit group that is seeking to release hundreds of people who were charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol incident. It could prove to be the largest gathering since then.
More than 600 people have been charged with a range of crimes, from misdemeanors to serious felony charges including assault, obstruction of an official proceeding, or conspiracy, for their alleged actions in early January at the U.S. Capitol, when protesters and rioters breached the building, interrupting a joint session of Congress.
Many of those charged remain in jail pending trial, including those who aren’t accused of carrying out acts of violence.
A total of five deaths were recorded in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 incident. Of the deaths, Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was determined to have died from homicide. A Capitol officer, Brian Sicknick, was determined to have died of natural causes. The remaining three people died outside the Capitol building, with two of the deaths due to natural causes, and the remaining death ruled as an accident.
Several police officers were reported to have taken their own lives following the incident.
Look Ahead America, which says it advocates for disaffected Americans who are ignored by both political parties and the government, noted that the Sept. 18 protests would be peaceful.
The group’s executive director, Matt Braynard, says the purpose of the protests is “for patriotic Americans to educate their state legislators on the power they have to give instructions to their state’s federal legislators.”
“We have composed a draft resolution a state legislature can pass to inform US Senators and Representative [sic] to oppose the tyrannical and inhumane treatment of the January 6 political prisoners who have been targeted by the Department of Justice and the FBI,” Braynard, a former Trump campaign operative, said in a statement on the group’s website.
Earlier this week, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said that protective fencing will be reinstalled ahead of the rally.
“The fence will go up a day or two before, and if everything goes well, it will come down very soon after,” he said on Sept. 13. Workers began installing the fence late on Sept. 15.
Manger told The Epoch Times in an email that his agency is “closely monitoring” the planned event but that he’s confident—given the changes in intelligence-gathering and sharing made after Jan. 6—that “the work we are doing now will make sure our officers have what they need to keep everyone safe.”
However, some suspect that the rally has a “very high probability of becoming a false flag event.”
“Do yourself a favor and stay away from DC on September 18,” Ron Watkins, former administrator of the imageboard website 8kun, stated in a recent post on Telegram.
Watkins, who is a strong advocate for election integrity and previously encouraged people to gather in Washington on Jan. 6 to peacefully protest, said in a separate post, “Everyone who attends the event should be fully aware of the potential risks of their participation at this time.”
Mimi Nguyen Ly and Reuters contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for clarity.