Federal officials suspect that far right extremists groups will hold a rally on the west lawn of the US Capitol building on 18 September, “seeking justice” for hundreds arrested for riots in January, according to a report.
The US Capitol Police, in a bid to thwart a potential security threat to the building, are discussing if the large perimeter fence — seen outside the Capitol after riots on 6 January — needs to be erected back up, an Associated Press (AP) report stated. Officials are also discussing other security plans, the report said.
Police and intelligence officials are concerned about the presence of extremist groups at the rally. Some members of far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers face some of the most serious charges seen so far, despite constituting just a fraction of the rogue crowd of 600 people during the January riots.
The rally “Justice for J6” by conservative activists is scheduled to take place on the West lawn of the Capitol and will demand the release of those arrested. It has been called by former President Donald Trump’s campaign official Matt Baynard who is calling the suspects “political prisoners,” a report said.
Hundreds of protestors stormed the Capitol building and inflicted serious damage amounting to more than $1 million in January. More than 50 people were charged for using a deadly or dangerous weapon or for causing seriously bodily injury to an officer. More than 535 people have been arrested for participating, and another 300 are still being hunted by the FBI.
The riots overwhelmed the police force, injured over 100 officers, and enforcement agencies came under heavy scrutiny for intelligence failure.
Being viewed as a major security concern, the rally comes in the wake of troubling incidents around the US Capitol, with the most recent being the pick-up truck parked near the Library of Congress on 19 August and a man claiming he had a bomb and a detonator. The Capitol police immediately rushed to evacuate nearby buildings, including the Library of Congress Buildings and the Cannon Office Building.
In another unexplained and concerning event, police found unexploded pipe bombs lined around the Capitol.
The incidents sparked a debate on fencing the iconic buildings and its grounds even as some say they do not want access to be sealed off.
The Capitol Board Police, which includes Sergeant at Arms of the US House of Representatives, the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the US Senate, and the Architect of the Capitol, will consider the decision on erecting the fence again, closing off the Capitol.
Capitol Police chief Tom Manger said that the department is “closely monitoring 18 September and planning accordingly.”
Yogananda Pittman, the police official who led the intelligence operations on 6 January, has been made the in charge of intelligence, AP reported.
Heightened security measures include activation of Metropolitan Police Department’s entire force and deputing specialised riot officers on standby, confirmed law enforcement officials.
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