The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning on Thursday about the potential for violence at an upcoming right-wing rally in Washington, DC this weekend, according to an intelligence briefing obtained by Yahoo News.
The document, which was unclassified and marked “For Official Use Only”, was released to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies ahead of the “Justice for J6” rally, which is scheduled to take place on Capitol grounds. American this Saturday. The event is hosted by a former staff member of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and aims to show his support for the hundreds of people who were arrested in connection with the violent storming of Capitol Hill on January 6.
“We are aware of a small number of recent threats of online violence in reference to the planned rally, including online discussions encouraging violence the day before the rally,” the intelligence file said.
Although the document states that DHS has no “indications of a specific or credible conspiracy associated with the event,” it warns that “isolated offenders and small groups of individuals may mobilize for violence. with little to no warning, especially in response to confrontational encounters with perceived opponents or escalation calls by key influencers. The memo suggests that law enforcement’s ability to track potential threats may be compromised by “the likely use of encrypted or closed communication platforms by those seeking to commit acts of violence.”
According to DHS, there were discussions on social media earlier this month about the storming of the United States Capitol the day before the rally, with one user commenting on “the kidnapping of a identified member of Congress “. Some social media users have also discussed the use of the rally, which has become the center of law enforcement attention, as a pretext to attack Jewish institutions, elected officials and “liberal churches” in Washington.
Saturday’s rally is part of an effort by some on the right to play down the actions of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory at the presidential election in 2020. More than 600 people have been indicted so far in the violent riot, which has left at least four dead and more than 140 police officers injured. The Guardian reported in May that at least 70 percent of those people were released pending trial – a much higher rate than the 25 percent of federal defendants who typically receive interim release. But Trump allies like Matt Braynard, the organizer of Saturday’s rally who previously worked on the former president’s 2016 campaign, seek to portray the January 6 defendants as “political prisoners” – a story Trump told him. – even adopted.
“Our hearts and minds are with those so unfairly persecuted in connection with the January 6 protest over the rigged presidential election,” Trump said in a statement Thursday. “On top of everything else, it has conclusively proven that we are a two tier justice system. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!
Intelligence memo obtained by Yahoo News explains that DHS threat assessment is intended to provide context for Saturday’s rally “in light of the ever-increasing threat environment” in Washington, and in particular on Capitol Hill from the United States, more than eight months after the insurgency. In April, a Capitol Police officer was killed when a man crashed his car into a barricade outside the complex, and last month another man was arrested after threatening to bomb the Capitol. On Monday, Capitol Police arrested a man who was found with several knives, including a machete and bayonet, in a van covered in white supremacist symbols outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The department noted that it was not clear whether the man had links to the January 6 riot or whether he was planning to attend the next Capitol rally.
The memo says the potential for violence on Saturday is heightened by plans for a counter-protest at Freedom Plaza in DC, just over a mile from where the rally is to take place. According to DHS, organizers of the “Justice for J6” rally said they had received “death threats” from opponents of their event.
Braynard said Saturday’s event was meant to be a peaceful protest.
“We are fully cooperating with several different police forces to ensure everyone’s safety,” Braynard tweeted Thursday. “Anyone who intends to commit acts of violence does not have to participate in our rally. “
Although organizers have secured permits for 700 participants, the DHS memo notes that, according to media reports, local authorities are expecting a smaller crowd.
But after failing to adequately prepare for the deadly chaos that unfolded on January 6, law enforcement is taking no chances. U.S. Capitol Police took a number of steps to increase security ahead of the Saturday afternoon rally, including reinstall a fence around the perimeter of the Capitol and ask the national guard to be on standby in case of violence. The DC Metropolitan Police Department also activated all his strength for saturday and to plans announced to close several streets of the city during the rally.
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