Heavy police presence in Washington ahead of rally for Capitol Hill riot defendants

A rally in support of defendants over the January 6 riots at the US Capitol is set to start in Washington, DC.

ew demonstrators were in place an hour before the event, with protesters vastly outnumbered by a heavy police presence.

The permit for Saturday’s protest allows for 700 people, but police remain concerned about violent protesters and counter-protesters.

Officers are also preparing for the possibility that some demonstrators may arrive with weapons.

The rally comes amid persistent attempts to rewrite the narrative of the violence of January 6, and the increasing volatility behind the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

Five people died during the Capitol riots, either before, during or just after the events.

Capitol Police have taken no chances for Saturday’s rally, and are working to avoid a repeat of the violence ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as president.

On Saturday morning, police were already working to separate the handful of supporters of Donald Trump and counter-protesters who had arrived hours before the rally was supposed to kick off.

Law enforcement officers geared up at a staging area as large dump trucks and cement barricades lined the streets around the Capitol, outside of the fenced area.

On the day of the riots, law enforcement officers were only expecting a free speech protest the day. Instead, supporters of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory over him in the November 2020 presidential poll.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said at a news conference Friday it was difficult to say whether threats of violence at the event were credible, but “chatter” online and elsewhere has been similar to intelligence that was missed in January.

The rally, organised by former Trump campaign employee Matt Braynard, is aimed at supporting people who were detained after the insurrection – about 63 held behind bars out of the more than 600 others charged in the deadly riot.

Intelligence collected before the rally has suggested that extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers will turn up.

But some prominent members of these groups have denied they are going and have also told others not to attend.

Far-right online posts have been generally tame, and Republican legislators are downplaying the event.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is still using his platform as the most popular leader in the Republican party to express sympathy for those who were arrested and to continue spreading election misinformation.

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