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Security Forces Prepare for Rally That Could Be Small

DC's delegate says police are overcompensating for January failures
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2021 3:31 PM CDT
Security Forces Prepare for Rally That Could Be Small
U.S. Capitol Police officers walk Friday near fencing around the Supreme Court in Washington.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

(Newser) – Police in Washington say they're much better prepared for the rally scheduled for Saturday than they were for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, but DC's congressional representative doesn't find that comforting. The tall security fence is back up around the complex, and security officials have held briefings and issued warnings about potential violence, starting Friday, CNN reports. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's congressional representative, thinks it might be about police as much as it is about demonstrators, calling the preparation "an overcompensation for the failures of Jan. 6."

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Organizers of the "Justice for J6" rally supporting the January rioters said they don't want violence. Matt Braynard, who worked for former President Trump's campaign, has asked attendees to be peaceful and "respectful and kind to all law enforcement officers," per the Hill. He's also asked them not to bring weapons or wear pro-Trump clothes. Police don't know how many people will show up, though the group's permit is for 700. About 500 have confirmed they'll attend, but a Capitol Police memo notes that attendance has fallen short of expectations at previous rallies held by the group, per CNN. Congress won't be in session this time, and no members have said they're going to the rally. Still, the Capitol is on high alert.

Online chatter about the rally has become increasingly violent, and the memo notes that the crowd could turn the event into a "Justice for Ashli Babbitt" rally. But the lawyer for the family of Babbitt, who was killed during the riot, hasn't accepted an invitation to speak. Still, police are under great pressure to keep the crowd under control, per the Hill. "I can understand that the authorities want to make a show of force," said Norton, who dislikes the fence. She said she hopes the message doesn't become "every time there's a demonstration at the Capitol, we're going to call out the troops as if this were a war." (Read more Capitol attack stories.)

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