US Capitol on high alert as pro-Trump demonstrators converge for rally19 September 2021
Hundreds of police officers will be on duty around the US Capitol on Saturday braced for a rally by supporters of the hundreds of people who breached the building on Jan 6 trying to overturn former President Donald Trump's election defeat.
A black eight-foot-high (2.44 m) fence which surrounded the white-domed building for about six months after the attack is back, 100 National Guard troops are on standby and security officials are performing additional checks on travelers arriving at Washington's nearest airport in an effort to prevent violence.
Organisers of the "Justice for J6" rally said they expected a peaceful event, but US Capitol Police Chief J Thomas Manger told reporters on Friday "there have been some threats of violence" linked to the event, where police would work to avoid clashes between Trump supporters and opponents.
More than 600 people have been charged with taking part in the Jan. 6 violence, which followed a speech by Trump reiterating his false claims that his election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden was the result of widespread fraud. Those claims have been rejected by multiple courts, state election officials and members of Trump's own administration.
Rioters that day battled police, beating them with sticks and metal barricades, smashed their way through windows into the Capitol building and ran through the halls, sending lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence running for safety. Four people died that day, one fatally shot by police and three from medical emergencies. A Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the day after and four police officers who took part in the defence of the Capitol later committed suicide.
Almost 50 people have so far pleaded guilty to charges related to the violence, nine admitting to committing felonies. The vast majority of defendants have been released awaiting trial but about 75 are still in custody, according to court documents.