Supporters of former US President Donald Trump have held a "Justice for J6" rally in the US Capitol.
Right-wing protesters staged the rally on Saturday to show their support for those who attacked the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021 to turn the presidential election in favor of Trump who lost to Joe Biden.
The organizers of the rally, who were fewer in number compared to their opponents and the police officers who had been deployed, said they expected a peaceful event.
Tony Smith, a pro-Trump protester from Maryland, said he had come to demand a fair judicial process for those who had been charged in the breach of the Capitol Hill building. "If we don’t honor that we don’t honor America," said Smith, who was carrying a poster board that said, "We Want Trump!"
Matt Braynard, one of the organizers of the rally claimed the pro-Trump protesters were there to "condemn violence, political violence in all of its forms."
"We don't want any today and we condemn the political violence that happened on Jan. 6," he said, adding, the ones who engaged in violence and property destruction that day deserved to be tried and speedily found guilty and locked up for a long time. "There's no argument from anybody on our side on this issue."
"This is about the many people who were there that day who have not been charged with violence, not being accused of assaulting a police officer, destroying property and disparate treatment they've received. This is about equal treatment under the law," Braynard further claimed.
In the meantime, US Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger told reporters on Friday there had been threats of violence linked to the rally.
He said police would prevent any possible clashes between Trumpists and their opponents.
On Monday, police issued a statement warning that they were already “aware of concerning online chatter” surrounding the Saturday rally.
An internal Capitol Police memo said that there had been a noticeable uptick in violent rhetoric around the event on social media.
The memo added that there had been multiple instances of white supremacy imagery being used in online chats about the rally.
US authorities have formerly issued warnings that domestic violent extremist groups, particularly those who advocated for the superiority of the white race, were posing the greatest threat to the nation.
Hours before the rally was set to start, Capitol police officers holding riot helmets and armed with batons and pistols took up positions outside the fence. Municipal buses bringing officers to the site clogged nearby streets. Trucks blocked access points to a staging area between the Capitol building and Union Station." On Jan. 6, we knew something was going around but nobody expected what happened. This time, we're expecting the worst," said a police officer on duty near the Capitol, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
More than 600 people have been charged with taking part in the Jan. 6 violence, which followed a speech by Trump at a nearby rally reiterating his false claims that his election loss was the result of widespread fraud. Those claims have been rejected by multiple courts, state election officials and members of Trump's own administration.