Federal and local law enforcement officials in charge of the safety for the U.S. Capitol said there is intelligence to suggest there could be violence at the Rally being held on Sept. 18 to protest those imprisoned for their roles in the Jan. 6 breach on the Capitol. U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said his police force and partners are prepared for any type of unlawful actions by protesters or counter-protesters.
“Our mission tomorrow, and it is our mission every day, is to protect everyone’s rights to free speech and to allow them to lawfully demonstrate,” Manger told reporters at a press briefing on Capitol Hill on Friday. “But, there have been some threats of violence associated with this event for tomorrow, and we have a strong plan in place to ensure that it remains peaceful and that if violence does occur, we can stop it as quickly as possible.”
Manger confirmed that the National Guard is on standby, but will only be called if the rally goes beyond the planned timing.
“If the event goes longer than we think it’ll go, they would be available to help us to secure the area around the Capitol. But if the event comes and goes, [we won’t] call to them,” said Manger.
The organizers of 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, expect hundreds to attend. The rally is being organized by Look Ahead America, a nonprofit group that is seeking the release of hundreds of people who were charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol incident and have been detained in reportedly inhumane conditions. 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.
Look Ahead America, which says it advocates for disaffected Americans who are ignored by both political parties and the government, said that the Sept. 18 protests would be peaceful.
The group’s executive director, Matt Braynard, told The Epoch Times earlier this month that the purpose of the protests is to “demand justice” for the “political prisoners” who remain in jail for allegedly committing nonviolent crimes on Jan. 6.
“We’re also protesting the lack of transparency and the investigation into what happened,” he said.
Zachary Stieber and Katabella Roberts contributed to this report