Chuck Schumer Says U.S. Capitol 'Better Prepared' for September 18 Rally Than January 6

Congressional leaders have expressed confidence that security measures put in place ahead of a protest in Washington, D.C. will leave the U.S. Capitol better protected than it was before the insurrection on January 6.

The United States Capitol Police (USCP) has sought to ease concerns about the "Justice for J6" protest outside the U.S. Capitol on Saturday organized by former Trump staffer Matt Braynard.

The protest is intended highlight the treatment of supporters of former President Donald Trump who participated in the Capitol riot.

In a video message last week, Braynard urged protesters to remain peaceful. However, the rally has sparked the attention of far-right extremist groups. The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers are both planning to attend, Associated Press reported.

Perimeter fencing set up around the Capitol after January 6 caused controversy among some lawmakers who said it turned the seat of government into a fortress.

But the fencing will be reinstalled for Saturday, alongside other security measures, including the installation of temporary high-tech security cameras allowing Capitol Police a bigger view of the complex.

USCP Chief Tom Manger told reporters that the fencing would go up "a day or two" before the rally and that "if everything goes will come down soon after."

White House fencing
The stairway to the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on September 13, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Security measures are being put in place ahead of a rally on September 18 outside the Capitol. Anna Moneymaker/Getty

The Capitol security board has also issued an emergency declaration allowing Capitol Police to deputize outside law enforcement as "special" Capitol Police officers.

Manger said in a statement that the First Amendment right to peacefully protest would be protected but he said that "we will enforce the law and not tolerate violence."

In the same statement, the USCP said since January 6 it had "improved training, created a critical incident response plan," as well acquiring additional equipment and technology.

Over the last month, Capitol Police has held planning meetings for the demonstration and is sharing intelligence with officers, law enforcement partners and Congress.

The measures have apparently reassured lawmakers with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who said following a security briefing for the top Democratic and Republican leaders, "they seemed very, very well-prepared—much better prepared than before January 6."

"I think they're ready for whatever might happen," he added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested there is now better communication between security officials and congressional leaders, saying on Monday, "It seems much better," adding, "I don't have anything to compare to, because we weren't briefed before."

However, it is uncertain what role would be played on Saturday by the National Guard, which helped to secure the Capitol complex on the evening of January 6.

As of Monday, no formal request had been made from the Capitol Police Board to the Pentagon for the National Guard to provide direct support.

In a statement to Newsweek, the USCP would not confirm the presence of the National Guard.

"We have talked to the military and we have multiple agencies assisting. We cannot provide specifics as we do not want to give away security sensitive info," it said.

Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) said in a statement in August it would also play its part in defending the Capitol with "an increased presence around the city where demonstrations will be taking place," The Washingtonian reported.

This story has been updated to include a statement to Newsweek by the USCP.