- The Washington Times
Friday, September 3, 2021

The fence around the U.S. Capitol may be reerected nearly two months after it was taken down, as part of security measures for an upcoming rally to demand “justice” for hundreds accused of breaching the building on Jan. 6 in support of then-President Trump, according to media reports.

U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) have been discussing putting the fence back up for the “Justice for J6” rally scheduled for Sept. 18 on the west side of the Capitol grounds, sources familiar with the plans told The Associated Press.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger told The Washington Times on Friday that the agency “cannot discuss specifics about potential security plans.” He added that USCP is “closely monitoring Sept. 18 and we are planning accordingly.”

“After Jan. 6, we made department-wide changes to the way we gather and share intelligence internally and externally,” he said. “I am confident the work we are doing now will make sure our officers have what they need to keep everyone safe.”

Nearly 600 people so far have been arrested and charged in connection with the riot, many of whom have been released while they await trial. Others, however, are still detained and some have complained of harsh treatment by staff, including allegations of abuse and excessive solitary confinement. 

Event organizer Matt Braynard, who served as data director for Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, says the September rally is “to raise awareness of this tragedy of this grave violation of civil rights of hundreds of our fellow Americans.”

Members of far-right extremist groups, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, are reportedly planning to attend. Some members and associates of the groups are facing Jan. 6 riot-related charges, including allegations that they came to Washington, D.C. ready for violence and that they conspired to block Congress’ certification of President Biden’s election win over Mr. Trump. 

A decision to bring back the fence for the rally would likely be considered by the Capitol Police Board, according to the AP. The board includes the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives, the Sergeant-at-Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate, and the Architect of the Capitol.

Officials began putting the fence up the day after the Jan. 6 attack which left five people dead, more than 100 police officers injured and caused more than $1 million in damages.

At one point, the fence encompassed a roughly 3-mile perimeter around the Capitol complex and was patrolled by thousands of armed National Guard troops.

The barrier eventually turned into a point of contention among officials and residents until it was taken down around mid-July. Some argued it was a necessary step to limit access to the building and discourage future breach attempts, while others said it deterred tourists and the roads it blocked could impede emergency vehicles and evacuation routes.

Capitol Police said the decision to remove the fence on July 11 was “based on the current threat environment and recent enhancements to the USCP’s response capabilities.”

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

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