Fencing Surrounding Capitol to Return Ahead of Sept. 18 Rally
The head of the U.S. Capitol Police confirmed on Monday that fencing surrounding the U.S. Capitol in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege on the building will return ahead of a follow up rally by Trump supporters on Sept. 18.
Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger and the sergeants at arms of both chambers briefed the top congressional leaders Monday morning on the intelligence gathered by law enforcement ahead of Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally at the Capitol.
As he was leaving the meeting, Manger told waiting reporters “the fence will go up a day or two before [the rally]. And if everything goes well it will come down very soon after.”
The Justice for J6 rally, planned for this coming Saturday afternoon, is being coordinated by former Trump campaign aide Matt Braynard, and his Look Ahead America organization.
Braynard, who was the leader of Trump’s data team during the early 2016 primaries, was laid off in April 2016 after a decisive victory by Sen. Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin primary appeared to set the stage for a convention floor fight between Trump and the Texas senator for the Republican presidential nomination.
Since then, Braynard has remained an outspoken supporter of the former president, although mostly on the outer fringes of the Trump universe.
Braynard and his Justice for J6 adherents are calling for the Justice Department to drop charges against over 570 people who have been charged with federal crimes in connection to the riot which ultimately led to five deaths and numerous injuries.
In a January letter to the Justice Department, Braynard said “There is no excuse for violence or destruction of property, and I support the prosecution of those individuals who engaged in such activity.”
“However,” he continued, “We do not support the Biden administration using those few bad apples as an excuse to persecute the peaceful Trump supporters who entered the Capitol with selective prosecutions based on their political beliefs.”
Braynard also asserted that “Many of the protesters who entered the Capitol reasonably believed they had permission. …. As videos show, police officers opened the protective fencing around the Capitol and stood aside as crowds entered the building.
“While some of these men and women should have known better, the majority of them were political neophytes who simply viewed this as an extension of the peaceful protest. They had no intention to destroy property or harm anyone. They may have been naive, but were not acting maliciously,” Braynard said.
This past weekend, Braynard told Fox News that he believes about 700 people will attend Saturday’s rally, though he conceded he had no way to be sure of the ultimate number.
On Monday, he sought to allay fears about Saturday’s event, telling a commenter on his Twitter page that “nothing” would be the same as on Jan. 6.
“On J6, protesters just showed up,” he continued. “We’ve worked for two months with Capitol, DC, park police, and private security. We have a secure perimeter and metal detectors. This event is going to be 100% run by LAA. The location is the same, that’s all.”
Among those briefed by Manger and the sergeants at arms on Monday was Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who declined to comment directly on the rally itself.
Asked about the security at the Capitol, Schumer said the Capitol Police and their partners in local law enforcement “seemed very, very well prepared.Much better prepared than before Jan. 6.”
“I think they’re ready for whatever might happen,” he said.
In a latter statement, the Capitol Police department acknowledged it had become aware of online “chatter” about the Sept. 18 rally.
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” Chief Manger said. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
On Monday morning, the Capitol Police Board approved a plan to temporarily put up a fence around the Capitol Building. When the inner-perimeter fence was taken down in July, USCP leaders noted that from time to time, they may exercise the ability to enhance security around the Capitol Complex.
Last week, the Capitol Police Board issued an emergency declaration, which will go into effect about the time of the demonstration and allow the Department to deputize outside law enforcement officers as United States Capitol Police Special Officers.
“We want to reassure everyone these are temporary measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” Manger said. “We are extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive from the local community and our Congressional stakeholders as we carry out our critical mission.”
Since January 6, the Capitol Police have improved training, created a Critical Incident Response Plan, acquired additional equipment and technology, and launched a now Department-wide operation planning process, A statement from the department said.
Throughout the last month, the Capitol Police have held planning meetings for the demonstration and continues to share important intelligence information with officers, our law enforcement partners, and Congress.