U.S. Capitol on high alert as pro-Trump demonstrators converge for rally

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Hundreds of police officers will be stationed outside the United States Capitol on Saturday, anticipating a rally by supporters of the hundreds of individuals who stormed the building on Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn former President Donald Trump’s electoral loss.

In an effort to prevent violence, a black eight-foot-high (2.44 m) fence that encircled the white-domed building for about six months after the attack has been reinstalled, 100 National Guard troops are on standby, and security officials are conducting additional checks on travelers arriving at Washington’s nearest airport.

The “Justice for J6” demonstration organizers claimed they expected a peaceful gathering, but U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger warned reporters on Friday that “there have been some threats of violence” tied to the event, where police would attempt to prevent fights between Trump supporters and opponents.

More than 600 people have been accused with participating in the violence on Jan. 6, which occurred after Trump repeated his bogus assertions that his election loss to Democratic Vice President Joe Biden was due to widespread fraud. Multiple courts, state election officials, and members of Trump’s own administration have all dismissed those assertions.

Rioters fought police with sticks and metal barriers that day, smashing their way into the Capitol building via windows and storming down the halls, sending lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence fleeing for their lives.

That day, four persons died: one was fatally shot by police, while the other three died as a result of medical issues. A Capitol Police officer was killed the next day after being attacked by protesters, and four police officers who helped defend the Capitol eventually committed suicide.

So far, nearly 50 people have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the violence, with nine of them confessing to committing felonies. According to court documents, the great majority of defendants have been released pending trial, but roughly 75 remain in detention.

The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Three Percenters are among the right-wing groups accused of invading the facility.

“It’s ironic that the rallying cry for January 6th is justice. The impeachment and removal of Donald Trump would have been justice on January 6th, in my opinion “In an interview with MSNBC, Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on a charge of instigating the Jan. 6 violence, said.

The Senate, which was then controlled by Republicans, eventually acquitted Trump.

“It’s past time for us to stop accepting as a party or as leaders these views of Oath Keepers, which is effectively a militia that wants to topple the government,” Kinzinger said.

Matt Braynard, a supporter of Trump’s false claims that his defeat was the result of widespread fraud who is organizing the rally, said he hoped it would lead to the release of people charged with taking part in the events of Jan. 6.

“What we really want to do is put a spotlight on the mistreatment of these individuals and encourage federal legislators to demand the Department of Justice deliver real justice to these people. And that means, in many cases, dropping charges,” Braynard said in an interview on C-SPAN.

While hundreds have been arrested for taking part in the riot — some of whom posted images online of their activities on Jan. 6 — questions remain unanswered. No suspects have yet been identified in the investigation into who planted pipe bombs at the Democratic and Republican parties’ national headquarters near the Capitol on Jan. 5.

A California man was arrested early this week after he was found near the Capitol with multiple large knives that are banned in the District of Columbia. His truck was decorated with white supremacist symbols and he made racist comments when approached by police, according to court documents.

Unlike on Jan. 6, when Congress was in session to formally certify Biden’s election, the Capitol will be largely empty on Saturday, with most members out of town.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has put 100 National Guard troops on standby to help police protect the Capitol if needed. The National Guard troops, who will be unarmed except for batons, would be used after local, state and federal law enforcement capabilities had been tapped, the spokesman said.

National Guard troops were stationed in and around the Capitol from early January through late May, with as many as 5,200 troops in place at the mission’s peak.

Source: Reuters

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