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'Justice for J6' updates: Sparse crowd met with massive police presence at rally

ABC News logo ABC News 9/19/2021
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The "Justice for J6" rally was billed as a protest for defendants being detained in connection with the January insurrection at the Capitol.

At least 610 individuals have been federally charged for their involvement in the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol, according to the Department of Justice. Most of the roughly 60 who remain behind bars are suspects prosecutors and judges have identified as posing a credible and ongoing threat to the public's safety.

Many of the same far-right groups and individuals who promoted the original Jan. 6 rally-turned insurrection this time warned supporters to avoid the demonstration at all costs. Former President Donald Trump called it a "setup" but also released a statement supporting those charged.

With the House and Senate both out, no lawmakers were at the Capitol on Saturday. But preventative security measures were taken, including the reinstallation of temporary fencing around the Capitol complex.

 

Latest Developments

September 18, 2021

Man with gun detained at rally, police say

A man who allegedly had a gun at the rally has been detained and charged with unlawful activities, Capitol Police said.

A witness told police they saw "what appeared to be a handgun" on a man in the crowd at 1:30 p.m., Capitol Police said on Twitter. The man did have a gun, police said in a followup tweet.

"At this time, it is not clear why the man was at the demonstration," police said.

 
September 18, 2021

Up to 450 people turn out for rally

About 400 to 450 people were "inside the protest area" Saturday, Capitol Police said after the "Justice for J6" rally concluded.

That number did not include law enforcement, police said.

a group of people standing in front of a large crowd of people: People hold signs as they gather in front of the U.S. Capitol during a rally in support of defendants being prosecuted in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021. © Jim Bourg/Reuters People hold signs as they gather in front of the U.S. Capitol during a rally in support of defendants being prosecuted in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021.  

The rally fell short of expectations, with organizers having secured a permit for 700 attendees. 

Organizer Matt Braynard thanked demonstrators who showed up for "trusting" him.

a group of people flying kites in a field: A counter-protestor holds a sign as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, DC, on Sept. 18, 2021.UGARTE/AFP via Getty Images) © Pedro Ugarte/AFP via Getty Images A counter-protestor holds a sign as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, DC, on Sept. 18, 2021.UGARTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite the turnout, the event drew a large law enforcement and media presence. Capitol Police said Friday they were working with over 27 agencies from around the region to secure the event.

a group of people standing in front of a flag: A woman holds an upside down American flag as she speaks with members of the media before a rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021. © Brynn Anderson/AP A woman holds an upside down American flag as she speaks with members of the media before a rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021.
 
September 18, 2021

Rally concludes without any known major incidents

The "Justice for J6" rally wrapped up Saturday afternoon after about an hour of speeches, without any major known incidents.

Authorities had warned of possible threats of violence at the event, and Capitol Police officers could be seen in riot gear standing on the perimeter of the crowd as people gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol.

a group of people standing around a motorcycle: Police stand guard as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021. © Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images Police stand guard as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee also said in a video message Saturday that the department had security "covered" for the event and was ensuring that people could "peacefully express their First Amendment rights."

Capitol Police said they arrested a man for a weapons violation shortly before the rally kicked off. He allegedly had a knife. Additional details were not immediately available.

No other arrests have been reported at this time.

The Capitol Police Civil Disturbance Unit also responded to a group of protestors and counterprotestors near the Capitol and "separated the groups without incident," police said.

 
September 18, 2021

Man with knife arrested, Capitol Police say

Right before the rally kicked off, Capitol Police say they arrested a man with a knife for a weapons violation. 

The arrest happened at 12:40 p.m., authorities said. No other details were immediately provided.

Knives are one of over a dozen prohibited items and activities on Capitol Grounds, along with firearms, mace, ammunition and other items.

In the days leading up to the rally, DC Police posted signage in the area of the rally that stated: "All firearms prohibited within 1000 feet of this sign."

 
September 18, 2021

Rally organizer lays out 'ground rules'

Rally organizer Matt Braynard laid out "some ground rules" at the start of the protest, urging the crowd to be respectful of law enforcement.

"There are uniformed officers here who I demand that you respect, you are kind to, you're respectful to and you're obedient to," he said. "They're here to keep us safe."

a group of people riding on the back of a bicycle: U.S. Capitol police patrol the area on bicycles before a rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021. © Jose Luis Magana/AP U.S. Capitol police patrol the area on bicycles before a rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021.  

He condemned the violence of the insurrection while calling for transparency in the investigation of the Jan. 6 riot.

 "Anybody who engaged in that kind of violence or property destruction that day deserves to be tried with a speedy trial," he said.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Matt Braynard, the organizer behind the rally and a former Trump campaign staffer, speaks during the rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021. © Alex Brandon/AP Matt Braynard, the organizer behind the rally and a former Trump campaign staffer, speaks during the rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021.  

"This is about the many people who were there that day who have not been charged with violence, not been accused of assaulting a police officer or destroying property and the disparate treatment they received," he continued.

At least 610 people have been federally charged in connection with the insurrection. About 60 remain behind bars, most of whom are suspects prosecutors and judges have identified as posing a credible threat to public safety based on either their alleged violent assaults against police or role in planning the riot.

-ABC News' Alexander Mallin

 
September 18, 2021

Counterprotesters arrive ahead of rally

Counterprotesters could be seen gathering near the Capitol ahead of Saturday's rally, toting signs and flags.

a person holding a sign: Counter-protester Tim Smith sets up a sign he said refers to former U.S. President Donald Trump near the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021. © Jim Bourg/Reuters Counter-protester Tim Smith sets up a sign he said refers to former U.S. President Donald Trump near the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021.

One man had a hand-painted sign with the word "Loser" on it, which he told the Associated Press referred to former President Donald Trump. 

  a man holding a kite while standing in the grass: A Capitol police officer speaks with a counter-protester near the Capitol on the day that supporters of defendants being prosecuted in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold a rally in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021. © Jim Bourg/Reuters A Capitol police officer speaks with a counter-protester near the Capitol on the day that supporters of defendants being prosecuted in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold a rally in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021.  

A woman could also be seen carrying Black Lives Matter flags. 

It is unclear how many protesters and counterprotesters will show up for the event, though organizers have secured a permit for 700 attendees.

 
September 18, 2021

US Capitol Police swear in law enforcement partners ahead of rally

Hours before the rally is set to take place, U.S. Capitol Police swore in local, state and federal law enforcement partners Saturday morning, giving the officers jurisdiction in the areas surrounding the Capitol. 

Capitol Police said Friday they are working with over 27 agencies from around the region to secure the event. 

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Police stage at a security fence ahead of a rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021. © Nathan Howard/AP Police stage at a security fence ahead of a rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 18, 2021.

Officers from Fairfax County, Virginia, to Montgomery County, Maryland, are supposed to be on hand to help Capitol Police. 

  

 -ABC News' Luke Barr

 
September 18, 2021

Capitol Police prepared in case of violence but hopeful for peaceful event

U.S. Capitol Police are prepared for potential violence at the "Justice for J6" rally, though are hopeful Saturday's event "remains peaceful," U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Tom Manger said.

"There have been some threats of violence associated" with the rally, Manger told reporters at a press briefing Friday. "We have a strong plan in place to ensure that it remains peaceful and that if violence does occur, that we can stop it as quickly as possible."

MORE: 'We are prepared': Law enforcement stresses readiness ahead of right-wing rally

Capitol Police leadership has been working over the last eight months "to ensure that we don't have a repeat of January 6," Manger added.

a view of a building: Security fencing is seen around the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 17, 2021. © Brynn Anderson/AP Security fencing is seen around the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 17, 2021.

Manger told ABC News’ Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott he is most concerned about violent conflicts between protesters and counterprotesters.

Fencing started going up around the Capitol complex earlier this week as part of an "enhanced security posture" to shield the Capitol from any violence, authorities said.

-ABC News' Luke Barr

  
a group of people flying kites in a field © Jose Luis Magana/AP
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