Law enforcement officials have once again put up the fence around the Capitol building, this time ahead of the “Justice for J6” rally Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C, which some officials worry could create an opportunity for violence.
The event is scheduled to last little more than an hour, and the organizer, Matt Braynard, hopes it will bring attention to those who have been jailed on suspicion of participating in the riot, but not of engaging in violence. It’s unclear how many people will attend, but Braynard has publicly warned that anyone intent on committing violence should stay away.
“We’ve got a largely peaceful crowd,” Braynard told CNN in an interview on Wednesday. “We’ve had two events in Washington, D.C., so far — at the Department of Justice and at the prison — and there have been no incidents so far.”
Prominent Republicans, however, have made it clear that they don’t intend on showing up.
“That’s a set-up”
Former President Donald Trump, who expressed sympathy Thursday for those “being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest,” has dismissed the event.
“On Saturday, that’s a setup,” Trump told The Federalist in an interview, also published Thursday. “If people don’t show up they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s a lack of spirit.’ And if people do show up they’ll be harassed.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has said that he doesn’t know of any lawmakers who plan to attend. John Thune (R-SD), the Senate minority whip, made a similar comment to The New York Times. “I haven’t talked to a single Republican up here in the Senate that has encouraged or enabled anything like that,” he said.
Longtime Republican operative Roger Stone, who was granted clemency last December, has voiced opposition as well. “I don’t know a single person in the MAGA movement who’s going,” said Stone.
“No, patriots, stay away from Washington,” he said.
Security measures are temporary, officials say
The original fence was put up in January, following the Capitol riot. Although some of it was taken down in March, it wasn’t until mid-July that the whole thing finally came down. Now, less than 90 days later, it’s back up.
“We want to reassure everyone these are temporary measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” said the Capitol police chief in a statement announcing the come-back. “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.”
Tom Manger, the chief of the Capitol Police, has said that they intend to protect everyone’s First Amendment rights.
A Department of Defense spokesman said Wednesday that the Capitol Police requested “some assistance” for the scheduled protest over the weekend, but declined to elaborate on the specifics. The spokesman, John Kirby, said that he did not believe the request to be an “exorbitant ask,” and believed it was more of a request for “manpower support.”
Multiple Senate offices were reportedly closed Friday ahead of the demonstration.