- The Washington Times
Friday, September 17, 2021

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said Friday that the agency is “not taking any chances” when it comes to threats of violence linked to the Saturday rally supporting jailed Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.

Chief Manger said during a news conference that it is “tough” to say whether the threats are credible, but it “would be foolish not to take seriously the intelligence that we have at our disposal.”


“We don’t know with any certainty, but what we do know is that this chatter that we heard prior to Jan. 6 obviously turned out to be,” he said. “Many of those threats turned out to be, in fact, credible — and so we’re not taking any chances.”

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.

He 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.”

A reporter asked if any threats had been made against members of Congress.

“We have not had really anything that has specifically been tied to the rally tomorrow, but … in the last few days we’ve had a number of threats — specific threats — coming in against specific members of Congress,” he said.

The chief said the rally permit states 700 people are expected to attend and “many” intelligence reports have mentioned “some of the organizations that were here on Jan. 6.” He also said police are aware of three groups planning counter-protests, two of which “haven’t had much of a history of violence.”

“But we’re also seeing mixed messages about whether folks are coming or not coming,” he said.

Intelligence reports have suggested far-right extremist groups including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers will show up, but some top members have said they will not attend and have told others to do the same, The Associated Press reported.

The press conference comes as police in the District of Columbia ramp up security measures ahead of the rally — including re-installing a fence around the U.S. Capitol — in an effort to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 riot at the building.

Chief Manger said the fence — which was first erected after the riot and taken down in July — is a temporary safety measure. 

Asked if it should be permanent, the chief said he does not think so, but it is not his “call to make.” 

Both the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department will be fully activated, and 100 unarmed D.C. National Guard troops will be on standby. An emergency declaration has been authorized to allow Capitol Police to deputize outside law enforcement officers as special officers during the Saturday rally.

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.

D.C. Homeland Security Director Chris Rodriguez said the city on Saturday will activate its emergency operations center, which serves as a coordination hub for local, regional and federal law enforcement agencies.

“The District of Columbia is 700,000 residents strong, and we do not tolerate hate, violence or the criminal actions of those who committed the insurrection on Jan. 6,” Mr. Rodriguez said, adding that the city’s public safety team works “around the clock” to protect residents and visitors.

The U.S. 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.

Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said the department has increased its staffing for Friday and police have put up “no gun zone” signs near the rally site.

The rally is billed as an event to demand “justice” for the more than 600 people charged after rioters stormed the Capitol building in an effort to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory over 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 have been singled out for harsh and unfair treatment while in custody.

Melissa Smislova, a top intelligence official at Homeland Security, said the agency expects about 700 people to attend Saturday’s protest, NBC News reported Wednesday.

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.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.


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