Demonstration for the imprisoned rioters of the Capitol: the police are ready this time
WASHINGTON (AP) – Donald Trump’s allies are holding a rally on Saturday at the United States Capitol, aimed at supporting what they call the “political prisoners” of the January 6 insurgency – about 60 people being held behind bars in more than 600 indicted in the murderous riot.
Repeated attempts to rewrite the narrative of the violence and panic of the day, and the lingering volatility around the politics of the 2020 election made it impossible to predict what might happen this weekend. After all, law enforcement didn’t expect a free speech protest until the day Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to disrupt Joe Biden’s certification of victory. .
Intelligence suggested that extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers would show up, but some prominent members of the groups vowed they were not going and told others not to attend. . Far-right online chatter has been generally tamed, with Republican lawmakers downplaying the event.
But the police are not taking any risks. The fence around the Capitol has been raised, at least temporarily. Police are bracing for the possibility that some protesters will arrive with weapons. Hundreds of counter-demonstrators are also expected with the possibility of clashes. The DC Police Department is on and the United States Capitol Police have requested assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request that approximately 100 members of the DC National Guard be stationed at a town armory near the Capitol, to be called in if necessary as back-up for other agencies charged. law enforcement and primarily to protect the Capitol building and congressional offices. They will be without firearms, but will be equipped with batons and protective vests for self-defense.
Police officials are scheduled to present security plans on Friday.
Meanwhile, a Homeland Security Intelligence report warned of social media posts that discussed the possibility of a Capitol storming the day before the rally. One user also “commented on the kidnapping of an identified member of Congress,” the document said, although the lawmaker was not identified by name in the report.
“Other references to violence identified on social media include discussions of using the rally to target local Jewish institutions, elected officials and ‘liberal churches’,” he said.
Many commentators on popular far-right online platforms like Telegram disavowed the rally, saying they believed law enforcement was promoting the event to trap Trump supporters. Some urged supporters not to attend what they called a “false flag” event that they believed was secretly organized by the FBI.
At the same time, however, some commentators continued to promote the rallies scheduled for Saturday in cities and state capitals across the country.
In a notice to House members this week, Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker urged lawmakers to stay away from the Capitol complex on Saturday and reminded them of the security available if they were traveling or protesting in their neighborhoods.
Lawmakers who supported Trump’s efforts to reverse his defeat have distanced themselves from the event. “I don’t know what it is,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz, when asked about the rally.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said he would not be attending, although he said he had questions about the treatment of those accused of the riot. His message to those who come to Washington for Saturday’s rally: “Obviously, if you come here, protest peacefully. It is the right of every American citizen to assert your point of view peacefully.
Trump was still using his platform as the most popular GOP leader to express sympathy for those arrested and continue to spread election misinformation and stepped up his attacks by the end of the week. In a statement Thursday, he said, “Our hearts and minds are with those so unjustly persecuted in connection with the January 6 protest over the rigged presidential election.”
The Associated Press examined hundreds of court and jail records for Capitol Riot defendants to find out how many were being held and found about 60 inmates in federal custody awaiting trial or hearing. sentencing. Federal authorities are still on the lookout for other suspects who may also end up behind bars. As recently as Friday, a judge ordered pre-trial detention of a Pennsylvania woman who claims the court has no jurisdiction over her.
At least 30 are imprisoned in Washington. The others are locked up in establishments across the country. They said they were being treated unfairly, and one defendant said he was beaten.
Federal authorities have identified several of those detained as leaders, members or associates of extremist groups, including nine accused linked to the Proud Boys and three linked to the anti-government Oath Keepers. Dozens of people are accused of plotting to organize coordinated attacks on the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote of 2020, one of the most serious charges.
Some jailed defendants are accused of assaulting police officers, others will utter violent threats. A few were released after their arrest but subsequently detained again on charges of violating the conditions of release.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has set standards that judges must apply in deciding whether or not to jail an accused of the Capitol Riot. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in March that rioters accused of assaulting officers, smashing windows, doors and barricades, or playing a leading role in the attack were in “a different category of dangerousness “from those who simply encouraged violence or entered the building after it was breached.
Despite this, Trump and his allies tried to change the narrative of the violence of the day. First, some blamed the attacks on leftist antifa antagonists, a theory that was quickly debunked. Then came comparisons between rioters and peaceful protesters or even tourists. They now say the protesters are being treated unfairly by the criminal justice system.
Rally organizer Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign strategist, promoted Saturday’s event and other similar events in cities across the country to draw attention to what he calls the “Political prisoners” unfairly prosecuted.
Associated Press editors Mary Clare Jalonick, Jacques Billeaud, David Klepper, Lisa Mascaro, Jake Bleiberg, Amanda Seitz, and Robert Burns contributed to this report.
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