Media, cops outnumber US Capitol activists

Attendance at a Justice For J6 rally at the heavily fortified US Capitol has been sparse.
Attendance at a Justice For J6 rally at the heavily fortified US Capitol has been sparse.

A few hundred demonstrators have turned up for a rally, in the shadow of the fortified US Capitol, to support those charged in the January 6 riot but were vastly outnumbered by the media and a heavy police presence.

US Capitol Police were taking no chances, with hundreds of officers brought into Washington DC in an effort to avoid a repeat of the pre-inauguration attack.

The fence around the Capitol was put back up, the city police force was fully activated and Capitol Police requested assistance from the National Guard.

There were a few scuffles as the rally started and one person was arrested for carrying a knife, police said, but no major incidents were reported early on.

Still, law enforcement officials remained on edge, concerned about the possibility of violent protesters and counter-protesters.

The rally was ringed by heavy dump trucks and took place in fields far from the Capitol building.

Law enforcement officers geared up at a staging areas and metal barricades were placed around the streets.

Inside the Capitol police riot shields were placed near doors and windows, a stark difference from January when officers inside were left without riot equipment and quickly overwhelmed as the crowd stormed inside.

Organisers of the Justice For J6 rally say they are supporting what they call the "political prisoners" of the January storming of the US Capitol by backers of Donald Trump in a bid to stop certification of President Joe Biden's election victory.

About 60 people are being held behind bars of the more than 600 charged in the deadly riot.

At least 30 of the suspects are jailed in Washington DC while the rest are locked up in facilities across the country.

They have said they are being treated unfairly and one defendant said he was beaten.

Some jailed defendants are charged with assaulting police officers, others with making violent threats.

A few were freed after their arrests but subsequently detained again, accused of violating release conditions.

Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said at a news conference on Friday it was difficult to say whether threats of violence at Saturday's event were credible but "chatter" online and elsewhere has been similar to intelligence that was missed in January.

with Reuters

Australian Associated Press