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Congressional leaders and senior security officials said the U.S. Capitol would be well prepared for an expected far-right rally in the region this Saturday, including plans to reinstall perimeter fences that were in up for months after the January 6 uprising.
This weekend’s rally will present law enforcement officials with the first full-scale security test on Capitol Hill since the complex was attacked by a pro-Trump mob.
On Saturday, right-wing protesters plan to protest ongoing criminal cases related to those charged after the deadly riot. The weekend rally drew the attention of far-right groups, the Associated Press reported.
Monday’s vote of confidence in Capitol Hill security plans came following a security briefing for key Democratic and Republican leaders in each chamber by Capitol Building Police Chief Tom Manger and Staff Sgt. William Walker arms. Manger and Walker were both installed in their posts after their predecessors were forced to resign following the Jan.6 attack.
“They seem very, very well prepared, much better prepared than before January 6,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. “And I think they’re ready for anything that might happen.”
Schumer made the remarks following the joint meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Parliamentary Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Manger said he shared with officials the information the agency is aware of, as well as its operational plan for that day.
He also told reporters that he expects fencing to return this weekend.
“The fence will go up a day or two before [the rally] and, if all goes well … it’s going to drop soon after, “he said.
The perimeter fence was installed within hours of the January 6 uprising and remained in place for six months, until July. It drew opposition from many Republicans and some Democrats who said the fence had turned the seat of American democracy into a fortress.
The Capitol Police Board, a small group of senior security officials in each chamber of Congress, on Monday approved the plan to temporarily install the fence around the complex. And last week, the board issued an emergency declaration that will take effect at the time of the protest to allow Capitol Hill police to replace outside law enforcement officials as special officers. of the department.
For its part, the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department, or MPD, has also said it is ready to defend the Capitol.
“MPD will have an increased presence around town where protests take place and will be ready to close streets for public safety,” Chief Robert Contee said recently.
Although Congress is not scheduled to sit on Saturday, security concerns come as members of Congress, law enforcement and surrounding neighbors prepare for the event.
And on Monday, Capitol Police arrested a man with guns near the Democratic National Committee headquarters in DC.
Pelosi said the briefing itself was a reminder of improvements put in place since the Jan.6 uprising.
“It looks a lot better,” Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I’m sure we’ll have ongoing communications.”
In a statement, Capitol Police said they were aware of online discussions regarding Saturday’s event. Manger said that while protesters have the right to protest, he urged those who were looking for trouble to stay away.
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to protest peacefully,” Manger said. “I urge anyone who thinks of causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
Capitol Police noted that since Jan.6, the agency has improved training, installed a new emergency response plan, added additional equipment, and initiated a department-wide operations planning process. The agency also held planning meetings for the Saturday event last month.