(Trends Wide) — Law enforcement agencies are preparing for potential clashes and riots during an upcoming right-wing rally in Washington city, as violent rhetoric surrounding the September 18 event has risen online and counter-protests are being planned for the same day, according to an internal Capitol Police memo reviewed by Trends Wide.
The latest intelligence report on the “Justice for J6” protest that aims to support the insurgents accused in the Capitol riots, notes that online conversations in support of the event began to escalate after the agent who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt made his identity public in a recent interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.
According to the memo, there has been a notable increase in violent rhetoric surrounding the event and heated discussions centered on the Babbitt shooting on social media and on discussion boards. The document warns that many people may also view September 18 as a “Justice for Ashli Babbitt” rally, which could be cause for concern, and it doesn’t hurt to anticipate violent altercations. There has also been talk of the violence associated with the event, with an online chat suggesting violent acts against Jewish centers and liberal churches while law enforcement is distracted that day.
According to a Congressional source, the Capitol Police are scheduled to present their security plans for the rally to the Capitol Police board this week, but it is not yet clear whether that will involve repositioning the temporary fencing around the complex, though that is something that is being debated and is still a possibility. The department is also “working with law enforcement in the Capitol region and with other law enforcement agencies,” the source said, while the Metropolitan Police Department is expected to be fully activated that weekend.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to a meeting A security briefing in his office Monday morning with US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger to discuss security preparations for the rally, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. The top Democratic and Republican congressmen on the House Administration Committee are also expected to receive separate security briefings in the coming days, another source said.
During her press conference on Wednesday, Pelosi declined to elaborate on the security measures that will be applied that day, but told reporters: “We intend that the integrity of the Capitol remain intact.”
Faced with growing concern on Capitol Hill over the rally, the community already on edge after multiple deadly incidents and bomb scares this year, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has warned that law enforcement should take the rally “very seriously.”
“I think they should take it very seriously. In fact, they should take it more seriously than they did the same kind of information they probably saw on January 5,” Trends Wide contributor McCabe told Trends Wide’s Poppy Harlow on ” Erin Burnett OutFront “earlier this week.
Matt Braynard, the main organizer of the demonstration, stated that there would be no violence from his group and that the event would be peaceful. Braynard also tweeted Wednesday that all members of Congress are welcome to speak at the rally.
“This is a completely peaceful protest,” he said in a Skype interview with Trends Wide’s Jessica Schneider. “And we’ve told people that when they come, we don’t want to see any messages about the elections, we don’t want to see any messages on T-shirts and flags or posters about candidates or anything like that.”
Around 500 people have indicated that they plan to attend, although the note indicates that the last acts organized by this same group, “Look Ahead America”, had a significantly lower attendance than expected and were peaceful. In addition, the rally is held on a Saturday while the US House of Representatives is in recess, and there has been no notable increase in hotel reservations for that weekend, according to the note.
At least one Proud Boys leader has encouraged supporters across the country to come, although others have advised against attendance online and warned that it could be a false flag operation designed to ensnare their supporters. Meanwhile, White Lives Matter is announcing global rallies for September 18 and has supported the January 6 insurgents online, but does not have a base in the city. There have also been multiple instances of white supremacist images being used in online chats about the rally, the memo notes.
The event organizer, a former Trump campaign employee, has not released a list of speakers. The memorandum says that nine members of Congress have been invited to attend, although with the exception of three, they declined the invitation. Those three, GOP representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, have yet to say whether or not they will attend. Babbitt’s attorney was also invited to speak.
The US Capitol Police said they cannot discuss security plans or briefings, but said the department is closely monitoring the rally and planning accordingly.
“After January 6, we made department-wide changes to the way we collect and share information internally and externally,” Manger said in a statement. “I am confident that the work we are doing now will ensure that our officers have what they need to keep everyone safe.”