Lydia Pardun, Gabby Silberman, Extremism Team; Indirah Canzater, Beatrice Fratini, NORTHCOM Team; Jade Patel, Emergency Management, Health and Hazards (EMH2) Team
Week of: Monday, September 13, 2021
Justice for J6 Rally Location
The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT ahead of the "Justice for J6" Rally taking place on September 18, 2021, in Washington DC. Protesters, led by Look Ahead America leader Matt Braynard, will gather in support of people which they consider unjustly charged for the January 6, 2021 riots at the United States (US) Capitol. The rally will take place at Union Square, between 1st and 3rd Street South West, in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool, from 1200 to 1315 EST. Hundreds of people are likely to attend the event. There is intelligence of growing online violent rhetoric and extremist chatter in connection to the rally, as well as counter-protesters organizing actions on the same day. As a result, there is a chance clashes and violence will occur, raising security concerns in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 Capitol Riots. Online chats suggest likely targets include Jewish centers and progressive churches. Everyone should avoid indicated areas in Washington DC while the rally is ongoing.
CTG is on HIGH alert for the potential violence that might result from the rally. Organizers will stage the demonstration in support of individuals arrested for the January 6, 2021 US Capitol insurrection, who they refer to as “political prisoners”. Ashli Babbitt’s officer-involved killing also motivates the rally. The strong feeling of injustice and need of vindication expressed by Justice for J6 protesters could likely result in violent actions. The possibility of violence is very likely to increase if counter-protesters organize in the area, creating tensions and probable clashes between groups and law enforcement. Heavy protesting is likely to cause traffic disruptions, which could delay a rapid emergency response if needed.
The aftermath of the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, has led to over 570 arrests and charges. Look Ahead America, led by Matt Braynard, a former staffer for the Trump campaign, has scheduled a rally to protest against the arrest of the individuals who he feels have been unjustly convicted. Rallies have been planned in 13 state capitals across the United States (US), the main rally taking place in front of the Capitol Building in Washington DC. The protest is expected in Union Square Plaza near the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and Capitol reflecting pool on the Capitol grounds between 1st and 3rd Streets NW/SW (see map above). The area of the protest is almost certainly symbolic and significant due to being the location of the January 6 insurgency. The direct link of location between the insurgency and planned protests make it less likely that the location will alter.
The event is scheduled to have multiple speakers including Mike Collins, Joe Kent, and families of the ‘political prisoners’ speaking on behalf of convicted individuals. Concern is raised relating to the speakers because the rhetoric that will more than likely be shared may contribute to anger among the participants and could possibly provoke the participants to commit violence. Among those attending, at least one Proud Boy leader has encouraged other extremists to join the rally in support of the protest and could increase the presence of high profile and dangerous individuals at the rally. The controversy behind the January 6, 2021 Capitol Building insurgency and extremism influence is likely to fuel the nature of the upcoming J6 Rally. Despite statements of peaceful protest, concerns are growing that extremist views and spread of conspiracy theories may be displayed at the rally. With ongoing efforts to curb and reduce information spread online, it is crucial that law enforcement remain vigilant and monitor social platforms leading up the rally to prepare and deter violence. The Proud Boys, The Boogaloo Boys, and Oath Keepers are groups of major concern because they were present during January 6, 2021 and will most likely make another appearance. The number of people arrested in association with the January 6, 2021 event makes it extremely likely that far-right groups are animated by a strong feeling of vindication for their members who were arrested. These groups are notoriously violent and at times heavily armed which is likely to be seen at this rally. The presence of weapons at a rally is likely to spark violent confrontations and it is extremely likely that it could result in multiple injuries, and the potential for fatalities.
A major point that has been associated with this rally is ‘Justice for Ashli Babbitt’, an individual killed on January 6, 2021 by a Capitol Police Officer who was cleared of all charges. While organizers say to respect law enforcement, it is likely that if violence occurred, it would be directed at the Capitol Police and other law enforcement. It is estimated that around 700 people will be in attendance at the Washington, DC rally, which is likely to alter between now and Saturday September 18, 2021. Actionable countermeasures to reduce the threat of violence include the US Capitol Police and Park Security working to install extra fencing around the perimeter of the Capitol for protection along with an increased presence of officers from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) within the surrounding area. The heavy presence of protection at the rally is likely a tactic used as a deterrent from violence, but riot behavior is still likely and must be controlled to reduce casualties. Along with showing physical police presence, fencing that was placed on January 6, 2021 will be placed around the Capitol building to offer a second layer of protection and to reduce the risk of a second insurgence. Counter protests and counter demonstrations are expected to occur, one set to be at American University and one possibly occurring at Freedom Plaza. If counter protesters were to be present, it is very likely that clashes between far-left and far-right groups would occur.
The forewarning of the rally has enabled deterrents and countermeasure strategies to be reviewed and implemented ahead of Saturday, September 18, 2021. Claims of a peaceful protest, along with extremist influence, are likely to make the behaviors of protesters increasingly unpredictable and it is advised that people avoid traveling through and near rally areas. With the rally originating because of previous acts of violence, although unlikely, the risk of a second insurgence cannot be ruled out and law enforcement are advised to be on high alert.
CTG recommends Capitol security be on high alert for changes in protest behaviors, specifically if there is an increase in violence. Target locations such as Jewish centers and progressive churches should be alert, and police presence is recommended to any locations mentioned by name as a target by extremists online before the rally. CTG encourages everyone to avoid the area during the time of the rally and recommends any counter-protesters to gather in a separate area, away from the J6 rally to reduce tension building leading to violent outbreaks. CTG will closely monitor the unfolding event for notable developments, along with social platforms for extremism and violent influential content. Notably, CTG will provide analysis on the extremist groups likely to attend, including their motives, behaviors and highlight crucial patterns that could alter the nature of the rally. CTG will also monitor counter protester activity to assess the likelihood of further threats such as fights and riots.
CTG assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH from multiple consecutive protests across the US, specifically within Washington DC.
Analysis indicates that there is a HIGH PROBABILITY the Justice for J6 Rally is likely to attract large numbers of people with the chance of turning violent. The strong sentiment of injustice and vindication for Ashli Babbitt and the alleged “political prisoners” of the Capitol Riots is very likely to animate protesters into committing violence, especially if scheduled speakers were to encourage it. If counter protesters decide to show up at the rally, clashes could occur.
The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is a unit of the global risk consulting and security firm Paladin 7. CTG proactively searches for and analyzes the threat of terrorism that comes from International Terrorist Organizations, Domestic Terrorist Organizations, and Individuals determined to inflict terror upon societies, organizations, and individuals. Our international and national security professionals set up protective measures to detect, deter, and prevent, discourage, and dissuade any terrorist organization or individual from attacking organizations and individuals. We work to protect our clients from any terrorist threat or attack. We also work proactively with the proper authorities to find those in terrorist organizations and individuals who will cause harm and assist in bringing them to justice and mitigating the threat long-term.
 “Union Square, located between 1st and 3rd Streets NW/SW” by Google Maps
 LAA Ten-State Rally to #FreePoliticalPrisoners: An Important First Step, Look Ahead America, https://lookaheadamerica.org/laa-ten-state-rally-to-freepoliticalprisoners-an-important-first-step/
 US CAPITOL Rally Guidance Video, Look Ahead America, n.d., https://lookaheadamerica.org/rally/
 Capitol riot arrests: See who's been charged across the U.S., USA Today, September 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/storytelling/capitol-riot-mob-arrests/
 US CAPITOL Rally Guidance, Look Ahead America, n.d., https://lookaheadamerica.org/rally/
 LAA Announces Thirteen State Capitol Rallies for #JusticeforJ6, Look Ahead America, September 2021, https://lookaheadamerica.org/staterallyannounce/
 Episode 1,260 – California Recall: How Gavin Newsom Loses Today, War Room, September 2021, https://warroom.org/2021/09/14/episode-1260-california-recall-how-gavin-newsom-loses-today/
 Capitol Police memo warns of potential for violence during September 18 rally, CNN, September 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/08/politics/capitol-hill-security-september-18-rally/index.html
 Congress and staff told to avoid ‘Justice for J6’ Capitol rally as organizers ban Trump clothing and signs, Independent, September 2021, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/september-18-rally-capitol-congress-b1920668.html
 U Capitol RallyGUidance Video, Look Ahead America, September 2021, https://lookaheadamerica.org/rally/; US Capitol Police says shooting of January 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt was 'lawful', CNN, August 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/23/politics/ashli-babbitt-capitol-police-officer/index.html
 Up to 700 expected to attend pro-January 6 rally Saturday, CBS News, September 2021, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/justice-j6-september-18-rally/
 Police will put fencing back up around the Capitol building ahead of a far-right rally supporting Jan. 6 rioters, Business Insider, September 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/capitol-police-fencing-ahead-of-918-justice-for-j6-rally-2021-9
 “JUSTICE FOR J6” IS PLANNING A SECOND CAPITOL RIOT. THEY’RE NOT WELCOME AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, September 2021, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qY8mSDLXfXzSqUp0bT5YgibBmzpPZUdNKlO6wFLCWrg/edit; Police request reinstalling Capitol fencing ahead of Sept. 18 rally, The Washington Post, September 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/09/09/capitol-fence-rally-insurrection/