Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
The protestors expected to converge on Washington, D.C., Saturday – people whose stated aim is to seek leniency for the people charged or convicted in connection with the Jan. 6 riots in the U.S. Capitol – will likely number only slightly more than the people for whom they will advocate.
Julia Ainsley of NBC News reports Department of Homeland Security officials expect only about 700 protestors Saturday, down significantly from the estimated tens of thousands of people who attended the Jan. 6 rally. To date, 600 people have been charged in connection with violence that erupted Jan. 6.
While this weekend’s rally organizers have promised to remain peaceful, officials in Washington are nonetheless beefing up security. Last week, police reinstalled fencing around the Capitol, and early this week D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart told WRC-TV in Washington that local police would be “all hands on deck.”
The rally was planned by Look Ahead America, a non-profit group headed by former Trump campaign staff member Matt Baynard. Look Ahead America has planned an additional 13 rallies across the nation. In addition to the rally in the nation’s capital, protestors are also gathering in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington state, and Wyoming.
“The purpose of these peaceful protests is for patriotic Americans to educate their state legislators on the power they have to give instructions to their state’s federal legislators,” Baynard said in a press release. “We have composed a draft resolution a state legislature can pass to inform US Senators and Representative to oppose the tyrannical and inhumane treatment of the January 6 political prisoners who have been targeted by the Department of Justice and the FBI.”
Look Ahead America states that its mission is to “register, educate, and enfranchise” rural and blue collar Americans who the group feels have been “and disenfranchised from the nation’s corridors of power”.
However, security officials and experts point to social media chatter as evidence that the D.C. rally will be attended by those who would seek to turn the event violent.
“As we look across social media, there are calls on some of the disparate sites for folks to come armed,” Geldart told WRC-TV. “We’ve seen that before on a lot of our other events. So, this is reminding folks that come to the District what our laws are here and that, you know, you can’t carry a gun here.”
Geldart said that the National Guard’s presence had not been requested, but that U.S. Capitol Police retained the ability to do so on short notice.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said Monday that the Capitol Police Board had issued a state of emergency order, which will go into effect at the time of the rally.
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” Manger said. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
The rally is scheduled to begin at noon EST.