A U.S. Capitol officer adjusts the security fencing outside of the U.S. Capitol in preparation for a planned "Justice for J6” rally in Washington, D.C. U.S.A on Thursday, September 16, 2021.
WASHINGTON - Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, placed 100 National Guard troops available to protect the Capitol in advance of Saturday's rally for people accused in the pro-Trump insurrection that took place on Jan. 6.
For the "Justice For J6" rally in the District of Columbia, hundreds of far-right demonstrators will be present. This refers to the Jan. 6 storming of Congress by supporters of former President Donald Trump to disrupt the confirmation of Joe Biden to be the next president.
A Pentagon spokesperson said that the 100 National Guard troops would only be deployed upon request by the Capitol Police. They will also help guard entry points to Capitol Complex. A spokesman for the Pentagon stated that the troops would only be deployed after all federal, state, and local law enforcement capabilities have been tapped.
According to Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, the USCP has not requested that National Guard members be armed. He spoke out at a press conference on Friday afternoon.
Manger stated that police are "hearing some talk" and that it would be foolish to not take seriously the intelligence at our disposal. He said that similar threats made before the Jan. 6 attack were "in fact credible", so they aren't taking any chances.
The chief added that "the most likely scenario for violence" is the possibility of the protesters clashing with counterdemonstrators. Capitol Police know of at least three counterprotest groups that plan to gather. One of these groups has a more violent history than the other.
Manger stated that some elected officials were invited, but they declined to attend the event.
Matt Braynard, rally organizer, did not immediately respond to a question about which elected officials were invited to the rally.
"We hope and expect a peaceful event this Saturday, but our operational planning is scalable so we will be ready for anything that happens," said acting Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher at the press conference.
Recent days have seen increased security at the Capitol. Police have erected fences around the Capitol grounds and the Supreme Court, Library of Congress and other congressional offices.
Robert Contee, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, told reporters Friday that federal and local security partners had carefully planned for the rally.
"Our department has added staff today and is fully activated tomorrow. Contee stated that there will be an increase in police presence throughout the city. This is to ensure safety and security for all residents.
Manger stated that 700 people were required to attend the rally, but it wasn't clear if all of them would be there.
According to the Transportation Security Administration, travelers who arrive at Regan National Airport in Virginia in the lead-up of the rally will be subject to increased security.
A spokesperson for TSA told Reuters that travelers will notice an increase in law enforcement and canine presence, as well as a higher awareness of TSA's intelligence driven, risk-based approach transportation security.
Trump encouraged his supporters to march to Washington to protest the historic ceremonial proceedings on Jan. 6.
Vice President Mike Pence had been presiding over Electoral College votes. He was rushed out by Senate staff when Trump supporters started pouring into the Capitol complex.
Pence, Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker), and Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who were all in line for the presidential succession, were taken to secure locations.