11:45 AM PDT, September 15, 2021
As many as 700 people are expected to attend a rally dubbed “Justice for J6” for those in support of the rioters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The Department of Homeland Security revealed they are “tracking hotel reservations across the United States” ahead of the Saturday event.
More than a dozen rallies have been organized by “Look Ahead America,” the organization putting together the “Justice for J6” event. “Look Ahead America” is led by a former 2016 Trump campaign staffer, CBS News reported. Thus far, approximately 500 people have RSVP’d to the rally, according to Melissa Smislova, deputy undersecretary for intelligence enterprise readiness.
Smislova also noted that it probably won’t only be people in support of the Capitol riot at the Washington, D.C. event but also people in attendance with their own grievances.
“Anything that is controversial. It can be vaccines, it can be the election. All of the extremist groups are trying to be divisive. We also may have foreign aligned groups, foreigners that are going to try to amplify some of these narratives,” Smislova said.
A temporary fence will be put around the Capitol ahead of the rally, and Capitol Police have already issued an emergency declaration for Saturday. The declaration will allow outside officers to act as U.S. Capitol Police special officers on that day.
Similar demonstrations are expected to take place in separate cities across the United States on the same day, Smislova also said.
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” said U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger in a statement. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
In the aftermath of the Capitol riot, Smislova said the department has been more serious about sharing information in advance of events that could potentially be violent.
“What we realized after January 6 is that we had gotten a little bit lax in some of the aggressive conversations,” Smislova said.