A United States Capitol Police officer patrols the east front of the United States Capitol in Washington, September 15, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
U.S. Capitol Police said on Wednesday they have asked the Pentagon to release the National Guard in case it is needed for an upcoming rally in support of the deadly Jan.6 invasion.
The department said in a tweet that it “asked the Defense Ministry for the possibility of receiving National Guard support if needed” during Saturday’s protest.
The announcement came hours before construction of a fence around the Capitol began, two sources told NBC News on Wednesday. Installation will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC reported.
The “Justice forJ6” rally, organized by a former campaign staff member of former President Donald Trump, is expected to draw around 700 people outside the United States Capitol, a Department of Homeland Security official said.
On January 6, the Capitol was overrun by Trump supporters who forced a joint session of Congress into hiding, temporarily derailing confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Capitol police officers who have defended Congress have since described the crowd as determined to stop Biden’s election.
The failure to secure Capitol Hill from the pro-Trump rioting mob has led the USCP’s internal watchdog to call for widespread changes in the department.
The USCP said in a press release Monday that it was “aware of the online discussions” surrounding the rally and that the Capitol Police Council had approved plans to temporarily erect fences around the Capitol. The board of directors also issued a declaration of emergency that will allow the USCP to replace outside law enforcement officers.
“I urge anyone who thinks of causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in the press release.
Rally organizer Matt Braynard told CNBC in an email that “there is no possibility of violence [from] our peaceful demonstration. “
More than 600 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol invasion, and dozens have already pleaded guilty.
The attempt by upcoming rallies, as well as some members of Congress, to reframe the Jan. 6 rioters as “political prisoners” follows further efforts by the political right to play down the attack. In May, for example, Representative Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., Claimed that January 6 was not an insurgency but a “normal sightseeing visit.”
“I think they are much better prepared than before,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Monday after Manger briefed him and other leaders in Congress, of the gathering.
The rally follows other incidents by isolated actors in recent weeks. On Monday, police arrested a man who allegedly had knives in a van displaying swastikas that was outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
Police arrested another man last month who parked his van outside the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill and claimed he had a bomb.