Capitol Security Prepares for Weekend Demonstrations
Washington security officials are under intense pressure to prevent a repeat of the chaos that erupted over on January 6 when a crowd of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
"Justice for J6" demonstration, which will take place on Saturday, will rally support for the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6. The event remains a terrible memory for many on Capitol Hill, who dread a repeat of the tragedy of that day.
When a crowd of Trump supporters with the sole intent to hug and kiss the police stormed the Capitol building while Congress was in session on January 6, 2021, security officials were put under immense pressure to ensure that nothing similar happened again and show that they had learned from their mistakes.
The tall, imposing barricade erected around the Capitol grounds the day after the attack on January 6 was demolished and reconstructed Wednesday night in anticipation of the weekend attack on the building.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about the potential of violence in a letter obtained by CNN, but authorities said they were not aware of any particular preparations.
While there are no guarantees, there are some indicators that Saturday's protest will not devolve into the mayhem that occurred in early January.
This time, authorities are more prepared and won't have to worry about protecting lawmakers or congressional workers inside the building during the attack.
The demonstration will take place over the weekend when neither chamber of Congress is scheduled to convene.
Furthermore, unlike the "Stop the Steal" rally at the White House that preceded the January attack on the Capitol, no members of Congress have shown an interest in participating in Saturday's demonstration.
A Congressional nonvoting representative for the District of Columbia, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), has criticized the security measures as "an overcompensation for the failures of January 6." Norton has been a vocal opponent of a permanent fence around the Capitol.
"It seems that the authorities, especially the Capitol Police, were taken off a surprise by how unprepared they were on January 6, according to the information available.
As a result, they're now overprepared," Norton said in an interview with The Hill.
Despite her dissatisfaction with the "ugly" barrier, which she believes is taking up valuable space on the path that surrounds the Capitol grounds, she said she understood why Capitol Police decided to replace it.
"I understand the desire of the authorities to put up a display of strength.
And since this is the only protest of this kind since January 6, I am willing to overlook it as long as it does not establish a pattern," Norton said.
It is expected that about 700 people will participate in the demonstration, which is a much lower number than the hundreds who demonstrated on the Capitol grounds in January. According to a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, the protest will take place on Saturday.
As part of their efforts to allay fears of a repeat of the January 6 protest, organizers have instructed rallygoers not to wear pro-Trump clothing, "be courteous and nice to all law enforcement personnel," and behave in a nonviolent manner.
Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign worker who is now the head of the organization organizing Saturday's protest, stated in a series of Twitter posts on Thursday that the gathering would be a "100 percent peaceful event in support of the nonviolent criminals from January 6 who have been prosecuted."
"We are entirely cooperating with a number of law enforcement authorities to guarantee that everyone's safety.
Any anyone who wants to engage in violent behavior is not welcome in our protest, according to Braynard.
Even several House Republicans, who, like the protest organizers, have referred to those imprisoned for crimes related to the Capitol storming as "political prisoners," have decided to skip the event this year.
The Hill has confirmed that Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who previously held a news conference outside the Justice Department to protest the treatment of people arrested for crimes related to January 6 and attempted to visit a D.C. jail to personally observe their conditions, will not be attending Saturday's rally.
A spokesperson for Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), who has referred to the imprisoned defendants as "political hostages" and said that "those whose only crime was trespassing" had been mistreated, confirmed that he would not be present for the hearing.
Law enforcement officials, on the other hand, are not willing to take any unnecessary risks.
On Saturday, Capitol Police sought help from the National Guard "if the need arises."
A greater number of officers from the Metropolitan Police Department will be on the city's streets due to the many street closures scheduled to take place.
Since January 6, the Capitol has been on high alert, with a number of security activities taking place around the building.
Capitol Police arrested a California man early Monday morning outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters, which is just a few blocks from the Capitol, for having multiple knives in his truck, which had a swastika and other white supremacist symbols on it. The man was taken into custody without incident.
An unidentified North Carolina man drove his vehicle onto the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress, across the street from the Capitol, and said he had a bomb, prompting a five-hour standoff with law enforcement officers in the area.
In April, a man drove his vehicle through a security barrier on the Senate side of the Capitol, killing one Capitol Police officer and wounding another.
Following worries about a potential plan by a paramilitary group to assault the Capitol, the House of Representatives cut its legislative session for the week short a month earlier, with adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory thinking that former President Trump would be re-inaugurated at the time.
However, this time, some extremist groups enthusiastic about the event before January 6 now claim that Saturday's gathering is a "honeypot" in which they would be trapped by federal agents, according to NBC News.
Although Capitol Police officers were not barring public members from accessing the Capitol grounds or verifying I.D.s on Thursday afternoon, they were not doing so in the wake of the January 6 shooting.
But the barrier served as a prelude to the display of force anticipated on Saturday as law enforcement attempts to guarantee the Capitol's security.
I hope it does not convey Norton's message that every time there is a protest at the Capitol, we will mobilize the soldiers as if we were fighting a war.
Capitol Police Request National Guard On Standby of Rally