Pentagon makes 100 National Guard troops available to respond to pro-Capitol rioters rally in DC

National guard capitol
Members of Virginia National Guard walk by the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2021. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • The Pentagon has made 100 National Guard troops available ahead of a rally in DC.
  • The “Justice for J6” rally is planned for Saturday and is being held in support of arrested Capitol rioters.
  • In addition to the Guard troops, a number of additional security measures, including a security fence, have been put in place.
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The Department of Defense is making National Guard troops available to support law enforcement ahead of a rally in support of individuals facing prosecution for their roles in the Jan. 6 riots at the US Capitol.

“Secretary of Defense [Lloyd] Austin approved a request from the Capitol Hill Police Board to provide 100 members of the Washington DC National Guard who will be stationed at the D.C. Armory as a Physical Security Task Force to augment law enforcement for the September 18th demonstration on Capitol Hill,” the Pentagon said in a statement Friday.

The Department of Defense said that Capitol Hill will rely primarily on local, state, and federal law enforcement options before requesting support from the National Guard task force, which can be deployed upon request to protect the US Capitol. The Guard forces will be unarmed, except for batons, according to The Washington Post.

The moves are part of a number of security measures being taken ahead of the “Justice for J6” rally, which is being organized by “Look Ahead America.” The organization, according to its website, “is an America First nonprofit dedicated to standing up for patriotic Americans who have been forgotten by our government.”

“Look Ahead America” views people who were arrested and charged for their involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots as political prisoners.

Former President Donald Trump has thrown his support to people who are facing charges, saying recently that “our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest.”

Trump was impeached for the second time in four years for his role in instigating the Jan. 6 riots. Amid the chaos of the day, he did eventually issue a statement encouraging his supporters to go home. In that message, he told the protesters “We love you” and that “you’re very special.”

Several people died during the riot, and over a dozen police officers were hospitalized from injuries confronting the crowd, some of whom carried weapons like baseball bats or stole batons and riot shields from officers. In gripping testimony, one Capitol police officer recalled being beaten unconscious, and another officer, who was an Army veteran, was assaulted with a flag pole.

In preparation for Saturday’s rally, a number of congressional offices have been closed, and protective fencing has been put up.

A federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the planning told CBS News that the intelligence suggests there will not be widespread violence, as there was eight months ago. “I wouldn’t say really informed people are worried,” the source said. “But they are taking no chances.”