(WASHINGTON) — Law enforcement leaders were unified in their message on Friday: We are prepared for the “Justice for J6” rally.
The event on Saturday, billed as a protest against defendants being detained in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, has law enforcement on high alert as they seek to avoid the kind of violence that ensued during the Capitol riot.
“There have been some threats of violence associated with this events for tomorrow. And we have a strong plan in place to ensure that it remains peaceful and that if violence does occur, that we can stop it as quickly as possible,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Tom Manger told reporters at a press conference on Friday.
“Over the last eight months, the leadership of the U.S. Capitol Police Department has been preparing, working to ensure that we don’t have a repeat of January 6,” Manger continued.
Fencing around the Capitol complex starting going up on Wednesday night, Capitol Police said, as part of the “enhanced security posture” to shield the Capitol from any violence that could break out.
Manger told ABC News’ Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott he is most concerned about violent conflicts between protesters and counterprotesters.
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday warned that some individuals involved in or opposed to the rally “may seek to engage in violence” but said there was no “specific or credible plot associated with the event,” according to a bulletin shared with state and local law enforcement and obtained by ABC News.
There was, however, a caveat.
“Lone offenders and small groups of individuals can mobilize to violence with little-to-no warning, particularly in response to confrontational encounters with perceived opponents or calls for escalation by key influencers,” the bulletin says. “The likely use of encrypted or closed communication platforms by those seeking to commit violence challenges law enforcement’s ability to identify and disrupt potential plotting.”
In early September, some social media users “discussed storming the US Capitol on the night before the rally, and one user commented on kidnapping an identified member of Congress,” the bulletin says. House offices were encouraged to work remotely Friday, according to a Thursday email from the House Administration Committee and obtained by ABC News.
Melissa Smislova, the deputy under secretary for intelligence and enterprise readiness at the DHS, told attendees at the Homeland Security Enterprise Forum on Tuesday that the department expects 700 people in Washington for the event, the same number permitted to attend.
Top DHS officials, including Homeland security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, have said they’ve stepped up their communications with state and local partners in advance of the event.
Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.
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