U.S. boosts security, warns risk of violence at pro-Trump Capitol rally
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[September 17, 2021]
By David Shepardson and Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Travelers arriving
at the airport nearest Washington, D.C., will face increased security in
the run-up to a planned Saturday rally supporting people charged with
taking part in the deadly Jan. 6 riot, the Transportation Security
"Travelers will notice increased law enforcement and canine presence
along with a generally higher level of awareness in TSA’s
intelligence-driven, risk-based approach to transportation security," a
TSA spokesperson told Reuters, referring to Reagan National Airport in
Virginia just across the Potomac River.
Hundreds of far-right demonstrators are expected in the District of
Columbia for the "Justice For J6" rally, a reference to the Jan. 6
storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump in an attempt
to stop certification of President Joe Biden's election victory.
On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security warned about the
potential for violence at the rally planned for Saturday, according to a
memo shared with state and local authorities and obtained by CNN.
One U.S. official who read the warning told Reuters it said homeland
security officials lacked "specific credible information" regarding any
individual or groups' plans for violence. The official said the warning
appeared to be based on social media postings rather than intelligence
gathered from sources inside organizations involved in organizing Sept.
Trump has maintained his false claims that his defeat was due to
widespread election fraud, even after his assertion was rejected by
multiple courts, state election authorities and members of his own
The pro-Trump group organizing the Sept. 18 rally, Look Ahead America,
has alleged that the more than 600 people facing criminal charges over
the Jan. 6 riots have been mistreated and singled out because of their
Police have ramped up security around the Capitol in response, mindful
of the rioters on Jan. 6 who attacked police, smashed windows into the
building and sent lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence running
Four people died on Jan. 6, one fatally shot by police and three from
medical emergencies. A Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by
protesters died the following day. Four police officers who took part in
the defense of the Capitol later committed suicide.
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The sun rises behind the U.S. Capitol, surrounded by a security
fence ahead of an expected rally Saturday in support of the Jan. 6
defendants in Washington, U.S. September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan
Workers were reassembling a fence that was put up
around the white-domed Capitol following that day but had been taken
down in July.
The fencing separated the lawns of the Capitol grounds from other
government landmarks including the Supreme Court, the Library of
Congress, congressional office buildings and the Capitol Reflecting
Pool just west of Capitol Hill, where protesters were scheduled to
gather on Saturday.
There were few other signs of beefed-up security, though plexiglass
police shields could be seen stacked at police checkpoints inside
doorways to the Capitol building.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Capitol Police said the Pentagon has been
asked to provide National Guard troops if needed.
Trump referred to the upcoming protest in a statement on Thursday,
saying, "Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted
so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the
Rigged Presidential Election."
Police and congressional leaders said they are prepared for
Saturday's protest. Most members of Congress will be out of town.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, participating at a
forum in Britain on Thursday, said, "They have their plans.
Everybody will be more ready for them."
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting
by Mark Hosenball, David Morgan, and Richard Cowan; Editing by Scott
Malone, Alistair Bell and David Gregorio)
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