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DC Is on Alert for Right-Wing Rally

Washington, DC, is bracing for another potential weekend of violence from right-wing Trump supporters, this time as they protest charges against the January 6 Capitol riot.

The Justice for J6 rally, planned for this Saturday, September 18, is being coordinated by spurned former Trump campaign operative Matt Braynard and his Look Ahead America organization. Organizers are calling for the Justice Department to drop charges against over 570 people who were allegedly involved in the January 6 riot at the Capitol — people Braynard has referred to as “political prisoners” and “nonviolent protesters” despite the five deaths and multiple injuries that resulted from the January 6 riots.

The majority of those charged for participating in the January 6 attack have not yet reached sentencing, though a recent sentencing memo from federal prosecutors said that most participants charged should anticipate jail time. Most are being permitted to await trial at home.

On Sunday, Braynard shared with a local Fox News affiliate that he estimated the number of rally attendees would be 700 people, though he was unsure how many would actually attend. Republican politicians, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, and Louie Gohmert, have backed calls to support those charged in conjunction with the January 6 riots.

Braynard told Buzzfeed News that congresspeople will speak at the rally, though he has not shared any names. Braynard has been a proponent of conspiracy theories related to January 6, such as implying that “left-wing infiltrators” were the ones promoting violence that day.

It’s not clear whether or not far-right activists known for violence intend to have a presence at the event. Over the weekend Mother Jones reported that publicly, groups like the Proud Boys are warning their supporters that the event might be a government trap, though last week the Associated Press reported that federal intelligence was concerned the group might attend.

“I’ve seen maybe a couple of threads on [right-wing forums] or comments here or there,” Jared Holt, a research fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab who tracks far-right extremism online, told Mother Jones. “But at the moment, there’s not much to support the idea that this will get enough momentum to even scratch the surface of what happened on January 6.” 

On the other hand, law enforcement experts are pushing for heightened scrutiny of the event. “I think they should take it very seriously,” former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe told CNN on September 6. “In fact, they should take it more seriously than they took the same sort of intelligence that they likely saw on January 5.” 

Before the planned September 18 rally, DC police intend to resurrect a seven-foot-tall fence around the Capitol building and authorize use of deadly force, according to The Guardian. The police have not yet sought the support of the National Guard.

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