U.S. Capitol Police deputized outside law enforcement as special officers on Saturday ahead of the “Justice for J6” rally near the Capitol building.
The agency was able to deputize the officers from their local, state and federal law enforcement partners through an emergency declaration.
A USCP spokesperson told The Washington Times in an email that the agency cannot disclose the number of newly deputized special officers for “security reasons.”
During a press conference Friday, police said both the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department are fully activated for the rally, and 100 unarmed D.C. National Guard troops are on standby.
Surveillance cameras have been installed around the rally site on the west side of the Capitol grounds, and the Metropolitan Police Department has announced numerous nearby street closures and no-parking areas.
The Department of Homeland Security released an internal bulletin this week alerting law enforcement that there is a “small number of recent online threats of violence” linked to the rally, including “online discussions encouraging violence the day before the rally,” CBS News reported on Friday.
USCP Chief Tom Manger said Friday that the agency is “not taking any chances” when it comes to threats of violence linked to the rally supporting jailed Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.
He did not provide any details about the threats, but he said his main concern is the potential for clashes between rally-goers and counter-protesters during the event, which he said would be “the most likely scenario for violence.
The chief added that police are preparing for other potentially violent situations between demonstrators on both sides and law enforcement.
“If they decide they want to breach the fence, if they decide they want to, you know, attack law enforcement — [we] will be ready for those kinds of violence,” he said, adding that he thinks it is “less likely.”
Saturday’s event is billed as a rally to demand “justice” for the more than 600 people charged so far this year after rioters stormed the building in January in support of then-President Trump.
Event organizer Matt Braynard, who served as data director for Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, said participants in Saturday’s protest want to focus new attention on allegations that some of those jailed in connection with the January riot have been singled out for harsh and unfair treatment while in custody.
Mr. Braynard said the protest on the west side of the Capitol grounds will be “peaceful” and his top request for attendees “is to be respectful and kind to all law enforcement officers.”
The “Justice for J6” rally is scheduled to begin at noon Saturday, and 17 sister rallies are scheduled outside state capitol buildings across the country.