U.S. Capitol Police said on Friday they are ready for Saturday's 'Justice for J6' rally and vowed not to have a repeat of January 6th, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building.
Officials sounded confident about their preparations even as they acknowledged receiving threats of violence and warnings against specific members of Congress.
'The US Capitol Police Department has been working around the clock for the last several weeks to ensure that we have a safe event tomorrow,' USCP Police Chief Tom Manager said during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
USCP Police Chief Tom Manager said his officers were ready for Saturday's 'Justice for J6' rally and said there would be no repeat of January 6th
'But perhaps more importantly, over the last eight months, the leadership of the US Capitol Police Department has been preparing working to ensure that we don't have a repeat of January 6,' he added.
Nearly 700 Trump supporters and far-right activists are expected on the West lawn of the Capitol on Saturday. They are protesting the federal charges that nearly 600 January 6th participants are facing for storming the Capitol, committing violence against the police, and causing destruction in the building.
USCP officers outlined the preparations they took to be ready for the rally even as they declined to go into details as not to reveal any sensitive security information.
The intent was to instill a sense of confidence and security going into the event. Officials are determined not to repeat the intelligence and planning mistakes revealed in the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection.
Manager admitted his biggest worry for Saturday was a clash between those attending the rally and any counter protesters who may attend.
Washington D.C. is hosting its popular H Street Festival on Saturday, which takes place a few miles from the Capitol Building, leading to concerns about potential street clashes.
'What we're concerned about, I think more than anything, is the possibility of counter demonstrators and making it to this demonstration, and they're being violence between those two groups,' Manager said. 'In my opinion, that's the most likely scenario for violence.'
He said their intelligence indicated three different groups - one of whom had a history of clashes - were talking of attending. He did not specify the groups.
Ahead of Saturday's rally, Capitol Hill has turned into a fortress with security fencing back up around the perimeter; signs warn the area around the Capitol is closed
Around 700 people are expected for Saturday's rally, which is to protest the federal charges against those who stormed the Capitol on January 6
A US Capitol Police K-9 officer patrols the Capitol grounds
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that a Department of Homeland Security intelligence report warned of social media posts that discussed the possibly of storming the Capitol Friday night. One user also 'commented on kidnapping an identified member of Congress,' the document said, though the lawmaker wasn't identified by name in the report.
Manager declined to comment on the report.
'Other references to violence identified on social media include discussions of using the rally to target local Jewish institutions, elected officials, and `liberal churches,'' the document said.
Lawmakers won't be in the Capitol building on Saturday but USCP has briefed Congressional leadership in the lead up to the rally.
Manager admitted threats to individual members of Congress have increased in recent days. Lawmakers are not scheduled to return to Washington DC until the week of September 20th.
'We have just, in the last few days, we've had a number of threats - specific threats - come in against specific members of Congress. And so we were going to handle those the same way we always handle those. And there's nothing different about the way we're going to deal with those, because of the rally tomorrow,' he said.
Additionally, House Sergeant at Arms William Walker, in a notice to members of Congress this week, urged lawmakers to stay away from the Capitol complex on Saturday and reminded them that security is available if they were traveling or had protests in their districts.
Ahead of Saturday's rally, Capitol Hill has turned into a fortress. Security fencing is back up around the perimeter, riot shields are ready, the National Guard is on stand by and DC Metro Police will activate their entire force on Saturday.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved 100 National Guardsmen to be on standby at the DC Armory for support on Saturday if they are needed. They won't be armed but will be equipped with batons and protective vests for self-defense.
Manager wouldn't give an indication of how seriously they are taking threats of violence.
'It's tough to say whether they're credible or not it,' he said of the threats. 'We don't know with any certainty.'
He added: 'We're not taking any chances.'
The capitol police force and its partners in the region - including the DC National Guard and DC Metro Police - have held multiple exercises, including physical ones and table top drills, to prepare for Saturday, according to Sean Gallagher, an assistant chief for USCP.
'Our officers are ready,' he said. 'We are hoping and expecting a peaceful event this weekend, but our operational plan is scalable, so that we will be