Capitol Police warning of potential for violence during rally backing rioters: report
Capitol Police are warning of potential clashes or unrest during a Sept. 18 right-wing “Justice for J6” rally, CNN reported.
According to the network, a Capitol Police memo notes a rise in violent rhetoric and heated discussions surrounding protester Ashli Babbitt’s death on Jan. 6. The event may also serve as a “Justice for Ashli Babbitt” rally, Capitol Police reportedly added in the memo.
The rally, which aims to support the more than 570 people charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6 insurrection, reportedly started seeing increased attention online after the police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt spoke out for the first time and revealed his identity. Some online discussions also suggested violence against Jewish centers and liberal churches while police are preoccupied with the rally.
Police expect Capitol fencing reinstalled for the rally, a source told The Hill. But an unidentified security official told CNN that the temporary fencing Capitol Police requested ahead of the event is expected to be smaller than in the past and may not obstruct traffic.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who’s now a CNN contributor, has warned that law enforcement will need to take the rally “very seriously.”
“I think they should take it very seriously. In fact, they should take it more seriously than they took the same sort of intelligence that they likely saw on Jan. 5,” said on CNN.
Matt Braynard, the leader of Look Ahead America, the group organizing the rally, said that it will be a “completely peaceful protest.”
“And we have told people that when they come, we don’t want to see any messaging about the election, we don’t want to see any messaging on T-shirts and flags or signs about candidates or anything like that,” he told the network.
CNN noted that around 500 people plan to attend the event, though the group’s past events normally had a lower turnout and were peaceful.
At least one Proud Boy leader has reportedly encouraged his followers to attend, while “White Lives Matter” is also planning a rally that same day and has supported the insurrectionists online.
Capitol Police told the network it cannot discuss security arrangements.
“After January 6, we made Department-wide changes to the way we gather and share intelligence internally and externally,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement, according to CNN. “I am confident the work we are doing now will make sure our officers have what they need to keep everyone safe.”
Updated on Sept. 10 at 1:02 p.m.