This weekend’s highly anticipated protest at the U.S. Capitol took place during the H Street Festival and amid a bevy of professional sporting events so the streets of D.C. were filled with people from all over the region and other parts of the country.
That’s why the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) increased and fully activated its staffing and presence throughout the District.
For MPD Chief Robert J. Contee III, this strategy, done in support of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP), reflects MPD’s experience with protests and other large-scale events bearing similarity to the Justice for J6 Rally.
“Residents and visitors attending any of these events should expect great police service and [MPD to be] present and visible throughout the city,” Contee said Friday afternoon. “MPD will handle these [events] while continuing to provide routine service throughout communities in our nation’s capital.
“You may notice the increased presence. This is to ensure everyone’s safety and security,” he said.
The Justice for J6 Rally united conservatives angered by the prosecution that some of the participants in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots have faced over the past few months.
Counterprotests were expected to take place within the same vicinity.
Contee touted the department’s capacity to handle the 700 people expected to converge on the Capitol. He said officers would enforce the District’s gun laws including one which forbids firearms within 100 feet of First Amendment assemblies.
In preparation for this weekend’s protest, USCP collaborated with MPD, the National Guard and nearly two dozen local and federal law enforcement agencies to develop a scalable plan that would allow them to handle any scenario.
Capitol officers also trained and fully staffed its forces, all while expanding its intelligence operations and improving communications to rank-and-file members of other law enforcement agencies.
USCP Chief Thomas J. Manger described these tactics as preventative in nature.
“We have strong plans in place to ensure that violence doesn’t happen,” Manger said. “We don’t tolerate violent behavior. We have to protect the Capitol. The plan we have in place meets that expectation.”