WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security estimates that around 700 people will attend the “Justice for J6” rally in Washington, DC on Saturday and has taken steps to ensure law enforcement is better prepared than they were not before January 6. said Melissa Smislova, deputy under secretary for the readiness of intelligence companies.
Saturday, September 18 is the date that supporters of former President Donald Trump, many of whom have ties to groups that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 to protest his electoral defeat, will return. in Washington for a rally. Smislova said DHS also learned via social media that similar protests were planned in other cities across the country.
Smislova, speaking at the Homeland Security Enterprise Forum on Tuesday, estimated that “tens of thousands” of protesters attended the pro-Trump rally which turned violent in January.
DHS expects much lower turnout this weekend. To assess the potential size of Saturday’s crowd, she said, DHS tracked publicly available information about protesters, U.S. Parks Police clearance requests for large gatherings, and hotel reservations across the United States
Federal law enforcement agencies, namely DHS and FBI, were pressed by members of Congress as to why they had not more actively warned local law enforcement in Washington against the risk of violence before January 6.
DHS has been more proactive in sharing intelligence leading to potentially violent events with law enforcement, which Smislova said was lacking before Jan.6.
“What we realized after Jan. 6 was that we had become a bit lax in some of the aggressive conversations,” said Smislova, speaking of the bi-weekly DHS calls and national law enforcement outreach and local people about threats in their area. “It was partly a lack of discipline, perhaps even complacency … The information was still there, but you had to actually seek it out instead of having it brought to you.”
She added that the ministry viewed the events of January 6 as a “failure on our part” to communicate within the ministry and with other agencies.
More than 600 people have been charged over their connection to the January 6 riots and criminal investigations by Congress and the federal government into what led to the riots, those involved continue and the delayed response from local law enforcement and federal continues.