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Supporters of those charged over US Capitol riot trickle in for DC rally

Matt Braynard, the organizer behind the rally and a former Trump campaign staffer, speaks during the rally near the US Capitol in Washington, on September 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Matt Braynard, the organizer behind the rally and a former Trump campaign staffer, speaks during the rally near the US Capitol in Washington, on September 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — In the shadow of a fortified Capitol, a few hundred demonstrators turn up for a rally to support those charged in January’s riot, but are vastly outnumbered by the media and a heavy police presence.

US Capitol Police are taking no chances, with hundreds of officers brought into Washington 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 and one person was arrested for carrying a knife, police say, but no major incidents were reported early on. Still, law enforcement officials remain on edge, concerned about the possibility of violent protesters and counterprotesters. Police are also preparing for the possibility that some demonstrators may arrive with weapons, though backpacks are allowed into the area and there are no checkpoints.

The rally is ringed by heavy dump trucks and is taking place in fields far from the Capitol building. Law enforcement officers gear up at a staging areas and metal barricades are placed around the streets. Inside the Capitol, police riot shields are 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.

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