U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said Friday that he supported the rights of people who may attend the Justice for J6 protest rally scheduled for Saturday in Washington.
Manger told reporters Friday that the department has a “strong plan in place to ensure” the event “remains peaceful, and that if violence does occur that we can stop it as quickly as possible.”
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” Manger said. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
The rally is designed to show support for protesters arrested on the Capitol grounds Jan. 6. The event is being planned by Look Ahead America, a nonprofit group led by former Trump campaign staffer Matt Braynard. The group is “dedicated to standing up for patriotic Americans who have been forgotten by our government,” according to its website.
When pressed by a journalist regarding the rally’s meaning, Manger responded, ”You’re not going to like my answer.” The police chief added: ”Everybody’s got the right to free speech. They can believe what they want to believe. I’m there to uphold the rule of law and make sure everybody’s safe.”
The Conservative Digest reported Friday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a Capitol Police request to provide 100 D.C. National Guard troops for Saturday’s event. In addition, responding to fears of potential violence, security fencing has been installed in front of the Capitol, and other measures have been taken.
Fox News reported that Braynard issued a statement via video that called those facing charges for their alleged actions during the deadly riot “political prisoners.” He said they have been treated unfairly. He urged anyone planning to attend Saturday’s event to behave peacefully.
Fox News also cited a Justice Department report that stated more than 700 people had been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 events.