Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has slammed those who plan to attend a rally outside the Capitol building later this month, arguing that they’re “coming back to praise the people who were out to kill” during the insurrection on 6 January.
According to an internal memo obtained by CNN, Capitol Police are preparing for the possibility of violence during a right-wing protest planned for 18 September outside Congress in Washington DC.
Officials have told The Associated Press that far-right extremists are expected to attend the rally, such as members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
The rally has been called “Justice for J6” and is aimed at voicing support for the Capitol riot and the suspected insurrectionists who have been criminally charged and sentenced for taking part in the siege.
The goal of the riot was to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
Interest in the event was boosted when the identity of the officer who shot Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was revealed, according to CNN. Ms Babbitt died of her injuries after being shot as she tried to climb through a broken window towards parts of the Capitol building where lawmakers were still present.
Ms Pelosi slammed those intent on protesting outside the Capitol on 18 September.
“These people are coming back to praise the people who were out to kill, out to kill members of Congress,” she told reporters on Wednesday. She added that rioters “successfully [caused] the deaths… of our law enforcement”.
“We intend to have the integrity of the Capitol be intact,” she said when asked about security measures around the Capitol. “What happened on January 6th was such an assault on this beautiful Capitol, a Capitol under the dome that Lincoln built during the Civil War.”
According to the memo obtained by CNN, there has been an increase in violent online rhetoric in connection to the 18 September event. The memo adds that some attendees may see the rally as a “Justice for Ashli Babbitt” event as well and not just an opportunity to support the criminally charged suspected rioters.
One online chat suggested Jewish centres and liberal churches be attacked while law enforcement is distracted by the rally.
The Capitol Police requested that temporary fencing be put back into place around the Capitol. The request is likely to be approved but the fencing is expected to be smaller and not interfere with traffic.
The former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, told CNN that law enforcement should take the rally “very seriously. In fact, they should take it more seriously than they took the same sort of intelligence that they likely saw on January 5”.
Lead rally organizer Matt Braynard told the outlet: “This is a completely peaceful protest. And we have told people that when they come, we don’t want to see any messaging about the election, we don’t want to see any messaging on T-shirts and flags or signs about candidates or anything like that.”
Around 500 people have indicated that they are likely going to attend the rally.