Metropolitan Police Department
Due to increased security concerns over a September rally planned in support of the people arrested for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, the Metropolitan Police Department will activate its entire force for that day. WUSA9 first reported the news Friday.
In response to a request for details about the department's security plan, an MPD spokesperson confirmed that the department will activate its force for the Sept. 18 rally — meaning sworn officers who typically have Saturdays off will be on-duty — but denied that it plans on cancelling previously scheduled leave. The spokesperson told DCist in a statement that officers will have "an increased presence around the city where demonstrations will be taking place and will be prepared to make street closures for public safety."
"In anticipation of First Amendment activities on Saturday, September 18, 2021, the Metropolitan Police Department will be fully prepared," the spokesperson said. "As with all First Amendment demonstrations, MPD will be monitoring and assessing the activities and planning accordingly with our federal law enforcement partners."
The so-called "Justice for J6" rally is planned for the Union Square plaza on the Capitol grounds, where the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and Capitol reflecting pool are located.
Unnamed sources told WUSA9 that a "flash notice" went out to all officers on the MPD force Thursday that informed officers of the department's security plans.
Former Donald Trump campaign official Matt Braynard is spearheading the protest, and has said the group's goal is to rally in support of the more than 600 people who were charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, which saw a mob of right-wing protesters storm the Capitol building in attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Braynard has referred to those who were arrested as "political prisoners." At least five people died as a result of the attack, and four officers who helped defend the Capitol have died by suicide.
"We're going back to the Capitol, right where it started. And it's going to be huge," Braynard announced on the podcast of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was federally charged in 2020 with fraud. "We're going to push back on the phony narrative that there was an insurrection."
Braynard, who leads a group called Look Ahead America, told HuffPost that the rally would be focused specifically on Jan. 6-related arrests, and that protestors would be discouraged from holding election or candidate-related signs or wearing "MAGA gear."
Braynard has said he expects the event to draw thousands of people, which has left local law enforcement officials concerned about the potential for violence — though Braynard has alleged the rally will be peaceful. The alert from MPD also comes as U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. police continue an investigation into a bomb threat that took place when a North Carolina man initiated an hours-long standoff at the Library of Congress Thursday.
U.S. Capitol Police have reportedly considered reinstalling the fencing around the Capitol grounds that was removed earlier this summer, though nothing official has been announced.
While the National Park Service typically issues permits for protests on federal land, an NPS spokesperson tells DCist that since the rally is planned for the Capitol grounds, any permits would be filed under the Special Events Division of the Capitol Police.
A USCP spokesperson didn't immediately respond to DCist/WAMU's request about whether any permits have been filed for the rally.
This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.