• Tue. Oct 26th, 2021

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U.S. Officials Warn of Potential Violence at the Sept. 18 Rally in Washington

The latest report, titled “Prospects for Violence at ‘Justice for J6’ Rally in Washington, D.C.,” warns of possible violence both by participants in the rally and by counterprotesters. Those seeking to commit violence could use encrypted communication platforms, making it difficult for law enforcement to disrupt any plans, according to the document.

Still, homeland security officers have found fractured support for the rally among those who have supported the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. Some individuals sympathetic to those who breached the Capitol have claimed online that the event is a “‘false flag’ planned by authorities to target potential attendees for arrest and have encouraged like-minded individuals to not attend,” according to the document.

Members of Congress and law enforcement officials have said the security preparations for the rally on Saturday are a stark contrast to the planning in the weeks before Jan. 6. A report by two Senate committees found that authorities failed to adequately warn law enforcement officials and share intelligence before the riot earlier this year.

Unlike the riot of Jan. 6 where the Capitol Police were severely outmanned, the agency plans to be at full staffing for the Sept. 18 rally, and has issued an “emergency declaration” that allows officers from other agencies to be deputized with police powers on Capitol grounds.

On Jan. 6, officers at the Capitol waited for hours to receive help from the D.C. National Guard. But for the Sept. 18 rally, the department has already asked the Defense Department to be ready to send in the National Guard “should the need arise” on Saturday.

In addition to restoring the fence, the Capitol Police has installed new security camera technology to better monitor a wider range of activity around the complex, and has streamlined its intelligence-sharing and planning processes in the wake of the attack.

Congressional leaders have said they are encouraged by briefings they’ve received from the Capitol Police about preparations for Sept. 18.

“I believe that they are well prepared, thorough, professional, and I think they are better prepared than people were before Jan. 6,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said after receiving a briefing on the precautions.