WASHINGTON (AP) — Allies of Donald Trump are mounting a Saturday rally at the U.S. Capitol, aimed at supporting what they call the “political prisoners” of the Jan. 6 insurrection — about 60 people held behind bars of the more than 600 charged in the deadly riot.
The repeated attempts to rewrite the narrative of the violence and panic of the day, and the persistent volatility around the politics of the 2020 election have made it impossible to predict what may happen this weekend. After all, l aw enforcement was only expecting a free speech protest the day Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
Intelligence suggested that extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers would turn up, but some prominent members of the groups have sworn they aren’t going and have told others not to attend. Far-right online chatter has been generally tame, and Republican lawmakers are downplaying the event.
But law enforcement officials are taking no chances. The fence around the Capitol is back up, temporarily at least. Police are preparing for the possibility that some demonstrators may arrive with weapons. Hundreds of counter-demonstrators are also expected with the possibility of clashes. The D.C. police department is activated, and U.S. Capitol Police have requested assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request for about 100 members of the D.C. National Guard to be stationed at a city armory near the Capitol, to be called if needed as backup for other law enforcement agencies and primarily to protect the Capitol building and congressional offices.
Police officials planned to lay out security plans Friday.
A Homeland Security intelligence report warned of social media posts that discussed possibly storming the Capitol the night before the rally. One user also “commented on kidnapping an identified member of Congress,” the document said, though the lawmaker wasn’t identified by name in the report.