Thursday, May 19

how law enforcement agencies hope to avoid further disturbances


(CNN) — A new fence, an information exchange alert, and increased security at airports are just some of the ways law enforcement agencies are preparing to prevent another deadly insurrection ahead of Saturday’s demonstration, which is aimed at Show support for the January 6 detainees.

Criticism of the security breaches surrounding last winter’s U.S. Capitol riots has been high on the minds of federal and law enforcement officials ahead of Saturday’s right-wing rally, which It has led to a concerted effort to avoid the mistakes of eight months ago, which left front-line officers unprepared for the violence that ensued.

This time around, the officers are preparing for the worst and acting cautiously. Unlike Jan.6, they are well aware of the threats related to Saturday’s event, which is expected to be a much smaller gathering, with some spreading the false narrative that federal agencies will use the rally as an opportunity to stop attendees.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning Thursday about the possibility of acts of violence by people participating in or opposing the “Justice for J6” rally.

Video of police beatings on January 6 in the Capitol 0:30

Officials have taken steps to ensure that there will be a significant security presence and that additional help will be on standby, with the Washington National Guard ready to provide emergency assistance, a source familiar with security conversations surrounding the event told CNN. This is a remarkable change from what happened on January 6, when the National Guard took hours to mobilize while the Capitol was being invaded.

Concerns around this weekend’s rally have been amplified by recent statements by former President Donald Trump, including one on Thursday in which he defended the rioters on Capitol Hill as “very unjustly persecuted people” and continued to perpetuate the false ones. claims about the “rigged presidential elections” that security officials have repeatedly warned will almost certainly provoke further violence by domestic extremists.

Security preparations began days in advance. The US Capitol Police, which has the operational direction of the demonstration, briefed lawmakers throughout the week and the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the US Capitol Police itself and other entities held a call with state and local law enforcement on Thursday to discuss the situation.

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The DHS notice noted that event organizers had secured a permit for 700 attendees in Washington, but according to the media, local authorities expect a smaller crowd.

Learned lessons

One of the main lessons of January 6 has been to increase the exchange of information on possible threats in a way that allows the security forces to apply the corresponding operational measures, according to several security officials told CNN.

This week, the US Capitol Police have pre-emptively reinstalled a fence around the Capitol complex and coordinated with various law enforcement agencies to ensure a substantial presence.

“What we realized after Jan. 6 is that we had been a little careless in some of the aggressive conversations. All of us had,” said Melissa Smislova, DHS undersecretary for intelligence firm readiness, at the National Security Company Forum on Tuesday, adding that since then, DHS has reestablished biweekly threat calls and committed to holding meetings to discuss upcoming events and task forces.

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“In part, it was a lack of discipline, I think, complacency, even,” he said.

The framework for exchanging information between federal, state and local authorities was there, Smislova said, but “you had to really look for it, rather than have it brought to you.”

“We have all collectively considered this to be a failure on our part to communicate with each other, and to make absolutely sure that we all have the same information. So that new commitment is what has been seen since January 6.” , said.

Authorities are bracing for possible violence – both in Washington and other US cities – surrounding the rally, which organizers say is scheduled to begin at noon Eastern Time.

There has been an increase in threats from individuals who are hinting that they are coming to Washington or going elsewhere to engage in violence to further their beliefs, including false narratives that the 2020 elections were stolen. and that people detained for their involvement in the January 6 riots are being treated unfairly and were just trying to do the right thing, according to a federal law enforcement source.

“We are taking a very restrained approach,” added the federal law enforcement source, “but what we are seeing is definitely enough to cause concern that it is leading to these increased security measures.”

Specific threats have been directed at the Capitol, members of Congress, Democrats, the Jewish community and liberal churches, according to two familiar sources and the DHS intelligence report obtained by CNN.

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Warnings

The second big concern is the possible violent interactions between those who come to Washington for the demonstration and those who come to oppose it, as there has been an increase in calls for counter-protesters, said the source of the federal security forces.

There is a real difference in the way authorities are preparing for this event and what happened in the run-up to January 6, the source said, pointing to both planning efforts and increased information sharing.

“There are more people with their ears to the ground right now than I have ever seen before, so if a threat or information comes up, someone picks up on it, and hopefully it won’t be in a memorandum other than do not reach people or in a report that people do not read, “said another law enforcement source.

Leading up to this weekend, DHS has been involved in facilitating information sharing both in the national capital region and with state and local officials across the country.

On Monday, DHS designated the “Justice for J6” rally as a special screening event 3, awarded to events of national or international significance that require limited federal support.

There are five possible tiers for these safety assessments, with the highest rating requiring extensive federal interagency support.

Trump supporters call for protests in Washington 1:50

However, DHS did not designate any level of security before Jan. 6, despite indications, such as posts on social media, that additional security might be needed on Capitol Hill that day, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office published earlier this summer.

“As a precaution, DHS is coordinating with the United States Capitol Police and its partners at all levels of government to maintain awareness of the situation and ensure public safety at weekend rallies,” said a spokesman. from DHS in a statement to CNN on Wednesday.

Officials have also acknowledged that over-communication and making it clear that there will be a strong law enforcement presence can have a deterrent effect, and have set two dates this year – the January 20 presidential inauguration and the QAnon’s conspiracy to make Trump president again on March 4 – as examples where the threats did not materialize.

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Petitions for a peaceful protest

The next rally is being planned by Look Ahead America, a nonprofit run by former Trump campaign employee Matt Braynard. The group is “dedicated to defending patriotic Americans who have been forgotten by our government,” according to its website.

Braynard said in a recent interview with CNN that “this is a completely peaceful protest” and “we have told people that when they come, we don’t want to see any messages about the elections, we don’t want to see any messages on T-shirts and flags or posters about the candidates or anything like that. “

The Capitol, which was shocked and traumatized by the deadly riots in January, has taken extra precautions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, for example, warned her Democratic colleagues in a letter that “there is a desire by some to continue the assault on the United States Capitol with misinformation and malice.”

“The leadership of Congress, on a bipartisan and bicameral basis, has been briefed by the Capitol Police Board on the nature of the threat and the unprecedented preparations to deal with another attempt to desecrate our national purpose,” said Pelosi , referring to a briefing congressional leadership received from US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger on Monday.

Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, a member of the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6, last week received a detailed rally security report from Manger, the Capitol architect and Sgt. House weapons, according to a family source. It lasted about an hour.

The report was “much more complete” than what lawmakers had received before January 6, the source added.

A spokesman for the Capitol Police told CNN on Tuesday that the department is in contact with the organizer of the rally. The Capitol Police have also taken various steps to prepare in a way that they did not do before January 6, even though there was no specific threat surrounding the event.

“We have spoken with the military and we have multiple agencies assisting,” Capitol Police said in a statement to CNN when asked if there was an imminent request for help from the National Guard. “We cannot give specific details because we do not want to disclose sensitive information for security,” he added.


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