Capitol Police have requested a military presence in Washington, D.C., ahead of Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally in support of people who were charged with crimes related to the Capitol riot.
The department told Reuters it had asked the Department of Defense “for the ability to receive National Guard support should the need arise on September 18.”
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday that the department has “received a request from the Capitol Police for some assistance for this weekend’s scheduled protest.”
He said Pentagon officials are considering the request, and “if it can be validated and supported, we’ll do that.”
Asked how many personnel the Capitol Police requested, Kirby said only that “it is not an exorbitant ask.”
“It’s not of a particularly large size or major capability,” he said. “I think it’s really more in the form of some manpower support.”
The request comes as law enforcement works to being overwhelmed by demonstrators, s was the case when a pro-Trump mob rioted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Capitol Police had not requested backup from the National Guard on January 6 until after the Capitol had been breached.
Roughly 700 people are expected to attend the rally, according to a prediction by an official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Law-enforcement officials are reportedly preparing for potential unrest at the demonstration as violent rhetoric surrounding the rally has spread online, according to an internal Capitol Police memo obtained by CNN. Capitol Police and law enforcement are preparing for some of the demonstrators to be armed, a source reportedly told the Associated Press.
Officials are preparing for the rally by taking additional security measures around the Capitol. The U.S. Capitol Police board has approved the department’s request to reinstall temporary fencing around the Capitol a day or two before the event.
If “everything goes well,” it will come down “very soon after,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger told reporters on Monday. The department has also issued an emergency declaration to allow the force to deputize outside law enforcement as “special” Capitol Police officers during the rally.
The Metropolitan Police Department is monitoring and assessing event planning and will increase its presence around Washington, D.C., The Hill reported.