US Capitol Grounds Fenced as Police Prepare for Sept. 18 Rally

'Justice for J6' Rally Slated to Take Place West Side of Capitol Building

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Fencing again surrounds the US Capitol, Sept. 16, 2021, in preparation for a Sept. 18 rally. E.O'Gorek/CCN

A fence again surrounds the US Capitol Grounds as US Capitol Police prepare for a rally planned for Saturday, Sept. 18.

The event, “Justice for J6,” is scheduled to take place at Union Square starting at noon. It is organized by Look Ahead America, an organization founded by former Trump campaign staffer Matt Branyard. Baynard has billed the rally as an effort to “raise awareness of the tragedy of this grave violation of the civil rights of hundreds of Americans” arrested and held in jail after the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

The Sept. 18 event is expected to draw far fewer people than were present that day, with crods expected to be in the hundreds rather than the thousands. However, it raises concerns with safety and security around the Capitol.

The Jan. 6 insurrection led to the death of at least seven people, including one woman who was shot by a USCP officer inside the building and another person who experienced a medical emergency. In the eight months following the insurrection, four officers from both Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and US Capitol Police (USCP) committed suicide which officials say were linked to Jan. 6 events.

Security measures have increased since then, USCP said. “Since January 6, the USCP has improved training, created a Critical Incident Response Plan, acquired additional equipment and technology, and launched a now Department-wide operation planning process,” the force wrote in a press release.

Police officers and K-9 units were visible on the streets around the Capitol Grounds Thursday.
Fencing was erected overnight Wednesday. On Thursday, the public was still being admitted through open gates to the Capitol grounds.

“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” said Chief Tom Manger. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”

The Capitol Police Board issued an emergency declaration in the first week of September that is expected to go into effect by the time of the demonstration. It will allow USCP to deputize outside law enforcement officers as USCP Special Officers.

“We want to reassure everyone these are temporary measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” said USCP Chief Tom Manger. “We are extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive from the local community and our Congressional stakeholders as we carry out our critical mission.”

Workers began the work of erecting the fence Wednesday night, completing work Thursday morning. On Sept. 13, Manger told reporters that if everything goes well, it will come down “very soon after” the rally ends.

“The USCP has asked the Department of Defense for the ability to receive National Guard support should the need arise on September 18,” USCP said in a tweet Sept. 15. CNN reported that guard forces, if approved, will act as a quick reaction force. That is a team of guardsmen on standby so they can quickly respond to situations as needed.

Residents are encouraged to stay away from the rally. DC Police report that much of the area around the mall from Third to 17th Street and Independence to Constitution Avenues will be closed to traffic and additional parking restrictions are expected.