Federal, state and local law enforcement remains on high alert ahead of Saturday’s “Justice for J6” protest outside the United States Capitol.
While intelligence suggests there will be no widespread or significant violence, federal law enforcement officials and groups that track domestic extremism told CBS News they remain concerned about the potential lone wolf-type violence or individual knuckleheads using the gathering to cause trouble. .
The FBI monitors conversations captured on social media sites and message boards, including Telegram, Parler, and Gab.
“I wouldn’t say that really informed people are worried” about the threat level of online chatter, a federal law enforcement source familiar with the planning of the rally told CBS News. “But they’re not taking any chances.”
As a precaution, temporary fences are installed around the United States Capitol, the United States Capitol Police are asking the National Guard Quick Reaction Force to be on standby near the Capitol, and the Capitol Metropolitan Police and DC, as well as additional officers from surrounding cities and federal agencies that have Civilian Disruption Unit training are activated.
Intelligence gathered to date indicates that far-right groups, including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, are planning to attend the rally to demand “justice” for the hundreds of people who have been indicted for their alleged roles in the war. January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.
The Department of Defense is reviewing Capitol Police’s request that the National Guard be “on hold” for Saturday’s rally, a department official and Congressional source familiar with the request told CBS News. The plan calls for the guard to be ready at the nearby DC Armory, the Congressional source said.
“I don’t think they will need the custody,” said a congressional source close to intelligence.
“The USCP has asked the Defense Department for the possibility of receiving National Guard support if needed on September 18,” a spokesman for the Capitol Police Department confirmed in a statement to CBS News.
Earlier, officials saidto attend the rally on Saturday. That estimate “holds up,” an official told CBS News.
“What worries me the most, and always worry about, is the threat that we don’t know about. It’s the threat that’s going to get away with it,” the retired officer said. FBI Thomas O’Connor, who spent 23 years on the Joint Task Force on Terrorism in Washington, DC “We have to be over-prepared. We have to face the worst-case scenario and hope for the best-case scenario.”
According to law enforcement sources, intelligence suggests that potential incidents at Saturday’s rally may be similar to the isolated fighting seen at protests attended.at the end of 2020, rather than the violence displayed during the .
Groups that monitor the behavior of domestic extremists told CBS News that many groups on their radar had not particularly talked about the rally and that some leaders of extremist groups were even encouraging their supporters not to attend the rally.
The FBI will have a small operational command center on Saturday, and other federal agencies will have agents available to monitor developments.
In a note sent to Capitol Hill staff Wednesday night, Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms wrote that they “continue to monitor and prepare for the authorized demonstration activity on Saturday, September 18, 2021.”
“Members and staff should expect demonstration activities and the potential for street closures to impact access to the United States Capitol Complex,” the memo reads. “We are also aware of and will be monitoring similar protests planned in some state capitals across the country.”
The memo also tells members that “the inner perimeter fence around Place du Capitole” will be installed overnight Wednesday and that work will be completed Thursday evening. Capitol Police said they expect the fence to fall after Sunday’s rally.