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An email warning of violence has put the U.S. Capitol Police on heightened alert in anticipation of a Nation of Islam march on the Mall this weekend, according to The Washington Post.
The message, distributed to all 1,800 officers ahead of the rally commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, warned that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan “has been accused of inciting violence against both Caucasians and police officers.”
Although the memo acknowledged that the initial Million Man March was not violent, it also said “given today’s negative racial climate and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement,” the second one “may not be as peaceful.”
Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine distanced the police force from the email Tuesday.
He said in a statement that the newsletter “does not reflect the viewpoint or values of the United States Capitol Police, nor was it intended to provide instruction or guidance to our employees.”
Capitol Police union president James Konczos chastised leadership for what he said was “race-baiting” rhetoric.
“You can’t have people putting out inflammatory comments and not holding them accountable,” Konczos told the Post. “We’re a professional police organization without professional leadership.”
“Our officers are well aware of the current problems facing law enforcement, so there was no need for this newsletter to be written, let alone released,” Konczos wrote in a letter to the Police Board, which the Post obtained. “This opinion piece has not only jeopardized the safety of the officers working the event, but the general public who will be in the area on October 10th.”
Local mosques have heightened security efforts in anticipation of the march, fearing it will bring an anti-Muslim backlash.
Nation of Islam organizers said they expect a peaceful event at the Saturday rally, which is dubbed “Justice or Else!” and aims to bring attention to failing education and police violence in black neighborhoods.