Washington Police Brace for Rally in Support of Capitol Riot Defendants
15:43 GMT 08.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
© REUTERS / Shannon StapletonPolice release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021.
© REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton
On 6 January, at least five people died after scores of supporters of former US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol to protest lawmakers certifying Joe Biden's election victory.
Washington and federal police are bracing themselves for next week’s right-wing rally, which aims to support the 6 January Capitol riot defendants.
The Washington Metropolitan Police Department pledged to have an "increased presence" around the US capital during the so-called "Justice for J6" rally scheduled for 18 September.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger told reporters that the police are “closely monitoring” plans for the gathering, but declined to further elaborate on the matter.
He spoke after former Trump campaign staffer Matt Braynard, the rally’s organiser, insisted that the event would be peaceful.
In a video posted on the website of a group founded by Braynard, the ex-Trump campaign staffer urged participants to be "respectful and kind" to police officers who will be on duty on 18 September. “If they ask you to do something, please do so”, he added.
© Shannon StapletonTear gas is released into a crowd of protesters, with one wielding a Confederate battle flag that reads "Come and Take It," during clashes with Capitol police
Tear gas is released into a crowd of protesters, with one wielding a Confederate battle flag that reads "Come and Take It," during clashes with Capitol police
© Shannon Stapleton
Braynard also said that the "Justice for J6" rally would claim that the US government violated the civil rights of those who were arrested and charged, people who have been described by the former Trump campaign staffer as “political prisoners”.
About 300 to 500 attendees will reportedly take part in the event, including members of right-wing groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Several members of these groups were earlier charged with conspiring to impede Congress during the Capitol riots.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the law enforcement think tank Police Executive Research Forum, meanwhile told the news outlet USA Today that the "Justice for J6" rally represents the “first major test” for local authorities since 6 January.
"We have seen demonstrations turn violent very quickly. And this is a very sensitive time”, Wexler said.
6 January Capitol Riots
On 6 January, hundreds of pro-Trump supporters rallied outside the US Capitol building when lawmakers were gathering inside to officially count the votes in the 3 November 2020 presidential election and announce Democrat Joe Biden the winner.
20 August 2021, 14:05 GMT
The rally turned violent after an aggressive mob stormed the building, vandalised it, and clashed with police. Five people died during the riots, and dozens more were injured, including at least 138 police officers. Law enforcement authorities have arrested over 500 individuals who participated in the Capitol riots, charging some of them with assaulting federal police officers.
Former President Donald Trump strongly denied the notion that he had riled up the mob attacking the Capitol, later condemning the violence. He was subsequently impeached by the House for a second time on charges of inciting insurrection, but was not convicted in the Senate.