Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved a Capitol Police request on Friday for National Guard support at Saturday’s planned rally in support of those being held in jail for allegedly participating in the Jan. 6 storming of the United States Capitol.
Pentagon spokesman LTC Chris Mitchell told Politico’s Lara Seligman that Austin agreed to provide the Capitol Police with 100 members of the D.C. National Guard. Hundreds of demonstrators are expected to descend on Capitol Hill for the “Justice for J6” rally.
“On September 17, Secretary of Defense Austin approved a request from the Capitol Hill Police Board to provide 100 members of the Washington, D.C. National Guard who will be stationed at the D.C. Armory as a Physical Security Task Force to augment law enforcement for the September 18 demonstration on Capitol Hill,” the spokesman wrote in a statement. “The D.C. National Guard will join a number of local law enforcement agencies in supporting the Capitol Police.”
“Should the Capitol Police require assistance, they will first utilize local, state, and Federal law enforcement capabilities before requesting the deployment of the Physical Security Task Force,” the statement continued. “The task force will only be deployed upon request of the Capitol Police to help protect the U.S. Capitol Building and Congressional Office buildings by manning building entry points and verifying credentials of individuals seeking access to the building.”
The Justice for J6 rally is organized by Matt Braynard of the group Look Ahead America. It aims to rally support for those arrested in the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, calling them “political prisoners” receiving unfair treatment by the justice system.
Braynard released a video last month calling on rallygoers to attend peacefully, act respectfully to law enforcement, and not bring any symbols demonstrating support for political candidates or mentioning the 2020 election.
“That’s not what this rally is about,” he said.
Capitol Police have already taken extra precautions ahead of the rally, including rebuilding a fence around the main Capitol building.
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said in a statement Monday. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
During an exclusive interview with The Federalist, former President Donald Trump warned the Sept. 18 rally is a “setup” meant to malign Republican voters regardless of what happens.
“On Saturday, that’s a setup,” Trump said, referring to the rally. “If people don’t show up they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s a lack of spirit.’ And if people do show up they’ll be harassed.”