WASHINGTON – Fences, cameras and barricades were erected around the Capitol early Thursday, as federal and local police braced for possible violence at a rally on Saturday defending those arrested in the insurgency January 6.
Organizers of the “Justice for J6” rally said they were expecting up to 700 people – but if someone is from Arizona, they didn’t say so. GOP representatives Paul Gosar of Prescott and Andy Biggs of Gilbert, who participated in rallies this summer for “political prisoners” on January 6, did not respond to repeated requests for comment this week.
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As organizers promised a peaceful event, police braced for the worst, putting outside police departments and the National Guard to sleep, monitoring internet activity and putting up fences around the Capitol grounds and the Supreme Court.
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to protest peacefully,” said US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger. A declaration earlier this week. “I urge anyone who thinks of causing trouble to stay home. We will apply the law and will not tolerate violence.
There were no such preparations on January 6.
It was then that thousands of protesters left a “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House and marched to Capitol Hill, where Congress was in the process of certifying the Electoral College vote that confirmed the victory. President Joe Biden on Donald Trump. They were met by outnumbered Capitol Police officers behind waist-high movable metal barricades which were quickly overwhelmed.
The mob breached the Capitol, sending members of Congress and the vice president to scramble to safety. In the hours of clashes with the police that followed, hundreds were injured, five people died and the Capitol suffered approximately $ 1.5 million in damages.
U.S. Capitol evacuated after pro-Trump mobs invaded interior in attempted coup
More … than 600 people were arrested in connection with the attack, including seven of Arizona, according to the Department of Justice. These are the people who are the subject of Saturday’s rally, whose organizers called the defendants “political prisoners”.
This is an “effort to raise awareness of this tragedy of this grave violation of the civil rights of hundreds of our fellow Americans,” said Matt Braynard, executive director of Look Ahead America, which organizes Saturday’s event.
This is not the first event of this type that the Braynard group is organizing. At the end of July, it hosted events at the Ministry of Justice and dc prison where members of Congress including Biggs and Gosar told film crews they were pushing for information on the treatment of those arrested in connection with January 6.
At July 27 event at the Ministry of Justice, Gosar said those “arrested for illegal acts on January 6 deserve to be treated fairly”, calling them “political prisoners”. Biggs echoed this, saying most of those arrested for their role in the deadly insurgency were “peaceful protesters.”
Despite the violence of the Jan.6 attack that Saturday’s event will highlight, Braynard said in a tweet that this weekend’s rally will be “a 100% peaceful event in support of indicted January 6 non-violent offenders.” Organizers asked those planning to attend the rally not to wear clothing – or use signs – that show their political affiliation.
“Anyone who does not honor this request will be considered an infiltrator and we will take your picture, find out who you are and make you famous.” Braynard tweeted.
But Capitol Police are always bracing for the possibility of violence. In addition to reinstalling the fence that just fell in early July, the ministry also “asked the defense ministry for the possibility of receiving National Guard support if needed on September 18”.
Many tourists wandering around Capitol Hill on Thursday said they were unaware of the upcoming protest and did not know why the fences were being lifted.
Diego Treviño, a Mexican tourist who was visiting Washington for the first time, said Thursday he was surprised to see the Capitol barricaded. He said he was disappointed not to have had the chance to see the Capitol in more detail, due to the security measures.
“It’s a little weird,” Treviño said. “Why is it closed if it’s really touristy? “
Despite the presence of fencing and video cameras, the atmosphere on Thursday was rather relaxed. A small contingent of police patrolled the Hill, while others appeared to be checking positions for Saturday. Unlike this spring and summer, there was no razor wire on the fences and armed soldiers were nowhere to be found.
But Manger said the fence would not be forever. If all goes well on Saturday, he said, the fence is expected “to come down very soon after.”
“We want to reassure everyone that these are temporary measures to keep everyone safe,” Manger said. “We are extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive from the local community and our Congress stakeholders as we carry out our critical mission.”