After U.S. Capitol Police top brass was caught flat-footed in the attack on the grounds on January 6, its leaders are preparing in advance for potential violence at a September 18 rally held by Trump supporters rallying for those arrested in the wake of the insurrection, claiming they are “political prisoners.”
On September 8, Capitol Police leadership reportedly distributed an internal memo about the “Justice for J6” event to be held on September 18 at the Union Square plaza at the foot of Capitol Hill. The report states that discussion on social media and message boards about the rally increased last month after the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt as she tried to climb through a window into the House chamber went public with his identity. (The officer was cleared of wrongdoing in August following an internal inquiry.) To deter any violent extremists who travel to D.C. for the rally, USCP officials have already determined they will install internal fencing around the Capitol ahead of the rally. The Metropolitan Police Department, the police force in Washington, D.C., announced in August that they will also have an “increased presence” on September 18 and that all officers will be on duty that day.
According to a Politico report on September 9, rank-and-file Capitol Police officers will be briefed on the rally on September 10, as part of a new preparation system implemented after the attack, which injured more than 100 law-enforcement members. Two GOP representatives who were invited as VIPs, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn, stated they will not be in attendance. The event is being organized by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer in 2016 and the director of a lobbying group for “patriotic citizens” called Look Ahead America. Braynard told BuzzFeed News he was not hired when he applied to join the 2020 campaign as a field organizer in Pennsylvania, though he was part of the post-election push alleging unsubstantiated election fraud.
Fallout from the insurrection is ongoing eight months after Trump supporters overran the Capitol following the Stop the Steal rally. On August 2, police officials confirmed that a third and fourth officer who responded to the insurrection had died by suicide; on August 26, seven officers sued former president Donald Trump and the Stop the Steal organizers for provoking the violence. September 9, meanwhile, marked the deadline for federal agencies and social-media companies to hand over records to the House Select Committee investigating the attack.
And while the legal momentum to overturn the election results remains strong in Arizona, the groundswell of populist support has waned since the Stop the Steal rally, when tens of thousands of Trump supporters traveled to Washington, D.C. Days before the rally, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it expected around 700 people to be in attendance for the sequel in September.
This post has been updated.