The man who’s behind a controversial D.C. rally later this month in support of those arrested and accused in connection to the deadly Capitol riot has no plans to call it off despite fears over potential violence.
“Under no circumstances does this train stop,” organizer Matt Braynard told WTOP.
Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer and head of Look Ahead America, is still planning to hold the “Justice for J6” rally in Union Square on the west side of the U.S. Capitol Building on Sept. 18 in support of the people who were arrested after the violent insurrection on Jan. 6.
U.S. Capitol Police are having internal discussions about a rise in violent rhetoric online ahead of the event, and fears that it could draw far-right extremist groups and violence, according to reports.
Federal officials have said intelligence suggests that right-wing extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are expected to be in attendance, but Braynard insists the rally will not be a repeat of Jan. 6.
“There’s not going to be any violence,” Braynard said.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger and D.C. police recently issued statements saying they are closely monitoring the plans for the rally and will respond accordingly.
Concerned about the prospect of violence, law enforcement officials are planning to reinstall the fencing that surrounded the Capitol for months, after a mob stormed the area on the day Congress affirmed the presidential election results for Joe Biden, The Associated Press reported.
Braynard said his group is in ongoing talks with federal and local authorities and will await final approval from Capitol Police on the morning of the event, following an inspection of the stage and setup for the rally.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who was the lead House impeachment manager in the Senate trial of former President Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection, said on MSNBC Thursday that the U.S. Capitol Police force will be ready.
“Backup forces will be ready. And Congress is in there, and there’s no particular proceeding that they could be disrupting … but nonetheless we are planning for something really big because Donald Trump and his aligned forces continue to embrace insurrection,” Raskin said.
On whether there would be any point at which the rally would be canceled over the risk of violence, Braynard said, “At no point will I cancel this rally. We will not be intimidated from expressing our first amendment rights … we will not be deterred.”
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, during a meeting Wednesday of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, asked her colleagues to encourage their residents not to go to D.C. on Sept. 18 to counterprotest.
“I would make the request, or maybe not request, maybe the suggestion, that there are no counter protests … I would hope that we would encourage our residents once again to not go counter protest,” she said.
The planned Sept. 18 rally comes as a jittery Washington has seen a series of troubling one-off incidents, The Associated Press reported. This includes, most recently, a man who parked a pickup truck near the Library of Congress and said he had a bomb and detonator.
The FBI Washington Field Office on Wednesday also released more information, and a new video, regarding the suspect who placed pipe bombs at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee the night before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.