WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday sharply condemned those who are planning to take part in a Sept. 18 rally outside the U.S. Capitol, accusing them of “coming back to praise the people who were out to kill” during the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob.
In response to a question at her weekly news conference, Pelosi said the House Administration Committee is holding briefings related to the upcoming rally and that she will make an announcement on the topic soon.
Supporters of former president Donald Trump are planning to rally outside the Capitol to argue that the hundreds of people charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection are political prisoners, an assertion that has exploded beyond far-right rallying cries and into mainstream conservatism.
“And now these people are coming back to praise the people who were out to kill, out to kill members of Congress, successfully causing the deaths – ‘successfully’ is not the word, but that’s the word, because it’s what they set out to do – of our law enforcement,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday morning.
Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer, died a day after being injured in the Jan. 6 attack.
Pelosi added: “So this is a – whatever your questions are, understand how strongly we think about this . . . because we want to return the Capitol to a place where people can come, children can learn, families can celebrate together the greatness of our country.”
Asked specifically whether there are plans for fencing to be re-erected around the Capitol, Pelosi replied, “Not necessarily, no.”
“We intend to have the integrity of the Capitol be intact,” she said. “I’m not going into any specifics in that regard.”
According to a person familiar with the situation, Pelosi has invited Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to a security briefing on the morning of Sept. 13.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger will brief the lawmakers on security preparations ahead of the Sept. 18 rally, according to the person, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
News of the planned briefing was first reported by Politico.
Look Ahead America, a nonprofit group founded and led by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign operative, is planning the “Justice for J6” rally to bring its message to Washington.
Braynard’s followers say many of the more than 570 people who have been charged with federal crimes in the attack were nonviolent and “reasonably believed they had permission” to enter the Capitol, according to a Jan. 29 letter Braynard sent to the Department of Justice and FBI.
The rally comes more than eight months after a violent mob stormed the seat of the U.S. government on Jan. 6, disrupting Congress in a bid to prevent the confirmation of Joe Biden’s election victory and resulting in the deaths of five people.
Braynard called Pelosi’s comments “pure disinformation” and blamed a “few bad actors” who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“What happened was, there are a few bad actors who assaulted law enforcement. We condemn that, and the damage to property,” he said. “But the vast majority of people were exercising their First Amendment rights at a public building.”
In fact, law enforcement has said about 800 people entered the Capitol. They ransacked the building and forced the evacuation of lawmakers in the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812.
Look Ahead America has requested a permit from the U.S. Capitol Police Board to hold its rally at Union Square, the public park by the Capitol Reflecting Pool. The group predicts that about 700 people will attend.
Braynard tweeted Wednesday that all current members of the House, Senate and those running for federal office, are welcome to speak Sept. 18, but did not say whether any have accepted the invitation.
District of Columbia police will be “fully activated” on Sept. 17 and 18, meaning all officers must work those days, spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said last week. Capitol Police have requested support from neighboring police departments in Arlington County in Virginia, and Montgomery County in Maryland on the day of the planned rally, according to those departments.
Capitol Police acquired new security equipment after Jan. 6, including helmets, shields and less-than-lethal munitions, and all available staff will be working that day, according to two statements from Capitol Police on Wednesday.
“We have a robust security posture planned for September 18th,” the statements read. “The Chief is confident the Department, and our law enforcement partners, have the training and necessary equipment for upcoming demonstrations.”
Randy Ireland, the co-founder of Citizens Against Political Persecution, a New York-based group that has hosted rallies, and president of a New York Proud Boys chapter called Hell’s Gate Bridge, told a group gathered in Portland, Ore. to come to the rally, according to videos posted last month on social media.
“Our next rally is going to be September 18th, in Washington D.C., right where it all started at the Capitol building,” Ireland says in the video. Ireland also led the crowd in a chant, saying “free our political prisoners.”
Cara Castronuova, another co-founder of Citizens Against Political Persecution, was announced last month as the co-host of the Sept. 18 rally.
The Proud Boys told its members on a prominent messaging platform not to attend this month’s rally, citing concerns that they would be arrested. “We aren’t going and you shouldn’t either because errbody going to jail. Sounds like bait,” the Proud Boys wrote in a message last week. This does not necessarily mean members of some factions will not attend.
Look Ahead America organizers have denied any relationship with groups such as the Proud Boys.
In her remarks Wednesday, Pelosi described the events of Jan. 6 as an assault on both the Capitol and the Constitution.
“Jan. 6 is not just any random day,” Pelosi said. “It is a day prescribed in the Constitution of the United States for the Congress of the United States to accept the results of the election as put forth by who won the electoral college.”
She added that it was “so sad” that even after all of the horror of that day, once the House came back into session, “a majority of the Republicans in the House voted not to accept that certification of the electoral college.”