U.S. Capitol sees fence, heavy police presence as protesters trickle in for D.C. rally

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The fence around the Capitol is back up. The Police Department of the District of Columbia is ready. The US Capitol Police has requested assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies, including the National Guard.

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Capitol police have taken no chances for Saturday’s rally in the Capitol in support of imprisoned rioters after the violent January 6 uprising. They are working to avoid a repeat of the pre-opening attack.

An hour before the start of the event, as the music started playing from the speakers, some of the demonstrators present were far outnumbered by the media and heavy police presence.


A permit for the protest allowed up to 700 people, but police were concerned about violent protesters and protestors. Police were also preparing for the possibility that some protesters might come with weapons, although backpacks were allowed in the area and there were no checkpoints.

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Police warned protesters ahead of time that no weapons were allowed, and that they were not to swim in the reflecting pool.

On Saturday morning, police were already working to isolate a handful of Trump supporters and protestors who had arrived hours before the rally began. Law enforcement officers geared up in a staging area as large dump trucks and cement barricades lined the streets around the Capitol, outside the fenced area.

Persistent attempts to rewrite the story of January 6’s violence and panic, and the growing instability behind the lies that stole the 2020 election, have made it impossible to predict what might happen this weekend. After all, law enforcement was only expecting a free speech protest the day Trump supporters attacked the Capitol in an attempt to obstruct the authentication of Joe Biden’s victory.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said at a news conference Friday that it was difficult to say whether the threats of violence at the incident were credible, but the “chatter” online and elsewhere is similar to intelligence that was missed in January.

The rally, organized by former Trump campaign staffer Matt Brainard, is aimed at supporting those who were detained after the January 6 uprising – nearly 63 of the more than 600 accused in the deadly riots behind bars Was. It is the latest attempt to downplay and deny the January violence.

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Intelligence gathered before the rally suggested that extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers would emerge. But some prominent members of the groups have sworn they are not leaving and told others not to join. Far-right online chattering has generally been prevalent, and Republican lawmakers are downplaying the phenomenon.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request to deploy approximately 100 members of the DC National Guard to a city armory near the Capitol to be called in as backup if necessary. They would be without firearms, but equipped with batons and protective vests for self-defense.

The Congress is out of session and no MP was expected to be in the building on Saturday. Biden was in Delaware over the weekend.

Several commentators on online platforms such as Telegram disapproved of the rally, saying they believed law enforcement was promoting the event to implicate Trump supporters. Some urged their followers not to attend an event secretly organized by the FBI.

At the same time, however, some commentators continued to promote planned rallies in cities and state capitals across the country.

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Meanwhile, Donald Trump is still using his platform as the most popular leader in the GOP to express sympathy for those who were arrested and continued to spread election misinformation as weeks went by. Simultaneously, their attacks intensified.

The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of court and prison records for Capitol riot defendants to find out how many were detained and about 63 held in federal custody awaiting trial or sentencing. Were were Federal officials are still looking for other suspects who could also go behind bars.

At least 30 are jailed in Washington. The rest are locked in facilities across the country. He has said he was being treated unfairly, and a defendant said he was beaten.

Federal officials have identified several of the detainees as leaders, members or associates of the extremist group, including nine defendants linked to the Proud Boys and three with anti-government pledges. Dozens are accused of conspiring to conduct a coordinated attack on the Capitol to prevent Congress from authenticating the 2020 Electoral College vote, one of the most serious charges.

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Some of the jailed defendants are accused of assaulting police officers, others of making violent threats. Some were freed after their arrests, but were later detained again on charges of violating the terms of the release.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sets standards for judges to determine whether to send a Capitol riot defendant to prison.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in March that the rioters charged with assaulting officers, smashing windows, doors and barricades, or taking a leadership role in the attack were more “dangerous” than those only in a different category of “, who were simply happy. Violence following a breach or entering a building.

But it is not clear how the cases of most of the accused will end. On Friday, a California woman who joined the crowd avoided a prison sentence when a federal judge sentenced her to probation, a result that was consistent with an early pattern in January 6 riots lawsuits.


Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman, Marie Claire Jalonik, Jacques Billeaud, David Klepper, Lisa Mascaro, Jake Bleiberg, Amanda Seitz, Nathan Elgren and Robert Burns contributed to this report.

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