About 700 people expected for ‘J6’ rally, DHS official says
Roughly 700 people are expected to attend the “Justice for J6” rally on Saturday, according to an official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Pro-Trump protesters have plans to travel to Washington, D.C., this weekend to attend the rally, which is being held in support of people who were charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to NBC News.
DHS expects that a number of demonstrators connected to the groups that stormed the Capitol will return for Saturday’s event.
The department, however, says that the expected crowd will likely be far less than the thousands of protesters who flocked to the nation’s capital at the beginning of the year.
Melissa Smislova, the deputy undersecretary for intelligence enterprise readiness at DHS, said during Tuesday’s Homeland Security Enterprise Forum that the department has been tracking publicly available information on protesters, permit applications for large gatherings with the U.S. Park Police and hotel reservations to gauge how many protesters are expected to attend the rally, according to NBC News.
Smislova also said that DHS has learned through social media posts that similar demonstrations are set to take place in other cities throughout the country, according to NBC.
Law enforcement agencies have been increasingly vigilant in preparing for Saturday’s rally, hoping to avoid the conditions that allowed the riot to happen on Jan. 6.
Smislova said the department has been more proactive when it comes to sharing intelligence with law enforcement in advance of potentially violent events, something that she said the department was “a little bit lax” with before Jan. 6.
“What we realized after January 6 is that we had gotten a little bit lax in some of the aggressive conversations,” Smislova said, referring to DHS’s bi-weekly calls and communication with state and local law enforcement about threats in their regions, according to NBC News.
“Some of it was a lack of discipline, complacency maybe, even. … The information was still out there, but you had to actually seek it out as opposed to having it brought to you,” she added.
She also said DHS believes the events of Jan. 6 were a “failure on our part” to connect with other agencies, NBC News reported.
The Capitol Police confirmed on Monday that the fence surrounding the U.S. Capitol building will return “a day or two before” the scheduled rally.
The Capitol Police board has also issued an emergency declaration, which allows the force to deputize outside law enforcement as “special” Capitol Police officers during the rally.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department told The Hill last week that the department is monitoring and assessing event planning, and will have an increased presence around the city and be prepared to shut down streets if needed.