The U.S. Capitol Police are preparing in advance of a rally slated to be held Saturday by Trump supporters in support of those arrested in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol after law enforcement leaders were caught off-guard at the time.
The "Justice for J6" will be held at the Union Square plaza on the west lawn of the Capitol and is being put on by Look Ahead America, led by Matt Braynard, an ex-campaign employee for former President Trump.
Fencing will be erected around the Capitol ahead of the rally, Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said Monday. Security fencing was initially erected days after the violent Capitol breach that occurred just after Trump held a large rally in an effort to overturn his election defeat.
"We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest," Manger said in a statement. "I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence."
Saturday's gathering is intended to support those arrested in the wake of the riot and to demand justice for Ashli Babbitt, a California woman who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer. The USCP officer who shot her will not face disciplinary action.
At least five police officers who responded to the riot have taken their own lives in the months since. The USCP said over the weekend it has recommended disciplinary action in six cases after an internal review of officer behavior on Jan. 6.
More than 700 people have since been arrested in the wake of the attack, the Justice Department said. The attack occurred as lawmakers were certifying President Biden's election victory, thereby interrupting a peaceful transfer of power. The angry mob swarmed the building, prompting lawmakers and staffers to flee, and engaged in violent confrontations with law enforcement officers.
In a video, Braynard called those facing charges for their alleged actions during the deadly riot "political prisoners," saying they have been treated unfairly. He urged anyone planning on attending Saturday's event to behave peacefully.
In an effort to not be caught flat-footed, the USCP said Monday it has issued an emergency declaration that will go into effect at the start of the rally. The declaration will allow Capitol Police leaders to deputize outside law enforcement officers. In addition, the USCP has obtained additional equipment and created an incident response plan.
On Monday, Manger, along with the sergeants-at-arms in both chambers on Congress, briefed lawmakers on intelligence gathered ahead of the event, The Hill reported.
"They seemed very, very well prepared — much better prepared than before Jan. 6. I think they're ready for whatever might happen," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.