Fencing returns to Capitol ahead of right-wing rally. What we know about 'Justice for J6' protest
WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders have been briefed about a rally called "Justice for J6" that is scheduled Saturday at the Capitol, and security crews are using a chain-link fence around the building to deter another riot like the one Jan. 6.
The Department of Homeland Security has projected 700 people could attend the rally, which would be much smaller than the event in January. But the violent rioters seeking to stop certification of the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6 has left police and government officials bracing for another incident.
Here is what we know about preparations for the event:
The fence around the Capitol is back
U.S. Capitol Police erected another chain-link fence around the building, beginning Wednesday, to limit access to the historic building.
Police had installed a fence topped with razor wire around the campus after the riot Jan. 6 to protect against another potential mob for President Joe Biden's inauguration Jan. 20.
Thousands of people on Jan. 6 swarmed the building after knocking over waist-high racks that police were using for crowd control. Police were overwhelmed by the mob and hundreds of people were able to get into the building after participants broke through doors and windows.
More than 600 people have been charged in the riot that left five people dead and 140 police officers injured. The riot led to the second House impeachment of Trump, who was acquitted in the Senate.
The earlier fencing came down in July, after lawmakers of both parties complained about the appearance of an armed camp around a building that tourists expect to visit.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said the latest fencing could "come down very soon after" the rally if things go well.
Congressional leaders briefed
Congressional leaders were briefed Monday about security precautions for the rally. While they didn't go into detail about the preparations, the leaders said more was being done than for Jan. 6
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the security officials seemed “very well prepared,” much better than for Jan. 6.
“I think they're ready for whatever might happen,” Schumer said after the briefing. "I believe that they are well prepared, thorough, professional, and I think they are better prepared than people were before Jan. 6."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also said police seemed prepared.
"I believe that they are well equipped to handle what may or may not occur," he said.
Calling for reinforcements
One complaint about the response to the Jan. 6 riot was that Capitol Police called for reinforcements, but National Guard troops took hours to arrive.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday that Capitol police requested “some assistance” for the rally, but he refused to detail how many troops were requested.
“My understanding is that it is not an exorbitant ask,” he said. “It’s not of a particularly large size or major capability. I think it’s more in the form of some manpower support.”
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the top Republican on the Rules and Administration Committee that oversees the Capitol complex, said Capitol Police have taken steps to "have the right kind of backup from neighboring agencies."
Advocacy for people charged in Jan. 6
A half-dozen Republican House members have held news conferences at the Capitol and the Justice Department, calling for due process and fair treatment of detainees facing charges.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said July 27 outside the Justice Department that nearly 200 defendants remained jailed awaiting trial.
“These are political prisoners who are now being persecuted and bearing the pain of unjust suffering,” Gosar said.
But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Monday that out of his Republican conference, he “doesn’t think anyone is” going to attend, according to Politico.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who was in contact with Trump on Jan. 6, told the New York Times he wouldn't participate.
“I don’t expect a lot of people there,” Tuberville said. “I haven’t heard anything about it. I will not be there.”
Rally organizer discourages partisanship
A rally organizer, Matt Braynard, urged participants Wednesday not to wear clothes or carry signs mentioning former President Donald Trump or Biden.
Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer, said participants who supported the political figures would be considered infiltrators.
“We request that anybody attending our events not wear any clothing or have signs supportive of either President Trump or Biden,” Braynard said in a tweet. “Anyone not honoring this request will be assumed to be an infiltrator and we will take your picture, find out who you are, and make you famous.”