Protest for jailed Capitol rioters: Police ready this timeFriday, September 17, 2021
WASHINGTON (AP) — Burned before, Capitol Police say they are taking no chances as they prepare for a Saturday rally at the US Capitol in support of rioters imprisoned after the violent January 6 insurrection.
Though it is unclear how big the rally will be, the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department are fully activating in an effort to avoid a repeat of the pre-inauguration attack. Under-prepared police were overwhelmed as hundreds of President Donald Trump's supporters broke into the Capitol and interrupted the certification of Joe Biden's victory.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said at a news conference Friday it was difficult to say whether threats of violence at the event are credible, but he said that “chatter” online and elsewhere has been similar to intelligence that was missed in January.
A permit for the protest allows 700 people. Manger said he believes the most likely possibility for violence Saturday will involve clashes between the protesters and counter-protesters who may show up.
“We're not going to tolerate violence, and we will not tolerate criminal behaviour of any kind,” Manger said. “The American public and members of Congress have an expectation that we protect the Capitol. And I am confident that the plan we have in place will meet that expectation.”
The DC police department is ready, and US Capitol Police have requested assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request for about 100 members of the DC National Guard to be stationed at a city armoury near the Capitol, to be called if needed as backup for other law enforcement agencies. They will primarily protect the Capitol building and congressional offices. They'll be without firearms, but will be equipped with batons and protective vests for self-defence.
The rally, organized by former Trump campaign strategist Matt Braynard, is aimed at supporting people who have been detained after the January 6 insurrection — about 60 people held behind bars out of the more than 600 charged in the deadly riot. It's the latest attempt to downplay and deny the January violence.