Capitol police are not taking any chances as they prepare for Saturday’s rally in the capital in support of rioters following the January 6 violent uprising. They are working to prevent a recurrence of the opening attack.
Repeated attempts to rewrite the story of that day’s violence and panic, and the growing volatility behind the 2020 election-stealing lie, have made it impossible to predict what might happen this weekend. However, law enforcement was expecting only one free speech protest the day Trump supporters stormed the capital in an attempt to disrupt Biden’s victory credentials.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Menger said in a news conference Friday that it was difficult to say whether the threats of violence were credible for Saturday’s event, but that “chatting” online and elsewhere is similar to intelligence. Which was missed in January.
The protest permit allows 700 people. Manger said he believed the violence was most likely to involve clashes between protesters and opposition protesters. The police are also preparing for the possibility that some protesters can reach with weapons.
On Saturday morning, police were already working to separate a handful of Trump supporters and opponents who had arrived just hours before the rally began. Hundreds of law enforcement officers were being brought into the city and stationed in the staging area as large dump trucks and cement barriers lined the streets around the capital, outside the fenced area.
The rally, organized by Matt Bryanard, a former Trump campaign employee, aims to help those detained after the January 6 uprising. This is the latest attempt to reduce and deny the January violence.
Intelligence gathered before the rally suggested that extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keeper would emerge. But some members of the groups have sworn they are not leaving and others have been told not to attend. Right-wing online gossip has generally declined, and Republican lawmakers are reducing the event.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved a request to deploy about 100 members of the DC National Guard to the City Armory near the capital, which will be called in as a backup if needed. They will primarily protect the capital building and congressional offices. They will be without firearms, but will be equipped with sticks and protective vests for self-defense.
Congress is out of session and no legislator was expected to be in the building on Saturday. Biden was in Delaware over the weekend.
Many commentators on online platforms such as the Telegram, who are popular with far-right people, say they believe law enforcement is promoting the event to trap Trump supporters. Some urged their followers not to attend any event they said was secretly arranged by the FBI.
At the same time, however, some commentators continued to promote rallies in cities and state capitals across the country.
Before January 6, the online debate was intense. But this kind of chatter has not been copied on social media so far, the hashtag has received very little attention with the promotion of the event.
Donald Trump is still using his platform as one of the most popular leaders in the GOP to show sympathy for those arrested and continue to spread election misinformation. In a statement on Thursday, he said: “Our hearts and minds are with the people who have been unfairly persecuted in connection with the protests over the rigged January 6 presidential election.”
The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of court and prison records of the capital’s riot suspects to determine how many were being held, and about 63 were found in federal custody pending trial or sentencing. Are waiting Federal officials are still searching for other suspects who may be behind bars.
At least 30 are in prison in Washington. The rest are locked in facilities across the country. He said he was being treated unfairly, and one defendant said he had been beaten.
Federal authorities have identified several of the detainees as leaders, members or associates of the extremist group, including nine defendants, including Proud Boys and three anti-government officials. Dozens of people have been accused of plotting coordinated attacks on the capital to prevent Congress from verifying the 2020 Electoral College vote.
Detainees in some jails are accused of attacking police officers, while others are threatened with violence. Some were released after their arrests but were later re-arrested on charges of violating the terms of their release.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has set a standard for judges on whether to send a Capital Riot suspect to prison. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal ruled in March that rioters were “in a different kind of threat” than those accused of attacking officers, breaking windows, doors and barriers, or playing a leading role in the attack. Including those who simply expressed happiness entered after violence or building violations.
But it is not clear how the majority of the accusers’ cases will end. On Friday, a California woman who joined the mob avoided a prison sentence when a federal judge sentenced her to probation, the result of a preliminary ruling in the January 6 riots case.
Associated Press authors Michael Kenzelman, Marie Claire Jalonic, Jacques Bleud, David Clapper, Lisa Muscaro, Jack Blaiberg, Amanda Setz, Nathan Elgreen and Robert Burns contributed to this report.
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