Police reinforce campus, local security ahead of Capitol rally Saturday

Media Credit: File Photo by Eric Lee | Staff Photographer

GWPD Chief James Tate said the department does not expect any activity tied to the Capitol rally to reach campus, but officers will be prepared for any changes to local security threats.

The GW Police Department will be ramp up its security presence across campus Saturday in light of planned demonstrations near the U.S. Capitol in support of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The Justice for J6 rally, which will take place from noon to 1:15 p.m. at Union Square near the U.S. Capitol, is meant to support the rioters who were arrested because of the attacks at the Capitol earlier this year. After U.S. Capitol Police installed fencing around the Capitol and Supreme Court Thursday, GWPD Chief James Tate said he will increase the number of officers and security personnel stationed at residence halls and other buildings across campus in response to the anticipated protest. 

“We always recommend that our community members maintain situational awareness as they move about the District, but especially on Saturday given the extra amount of activity in the area,” he said in an email. “They should also have a plan on how and where to seek shelter if it becomes necessary.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also approved a request from USCP to deploy 100 D.C. National Guard troops to the Capitol Saturday.

Tate said GWPD does not expect any activity tied to the Capitol rally to reach campus, but officials are prepared for any changes to local security threats. He said GWPD has cooperated with local and federal law enforcement to identify potential threats to campus, and officers will assist the Metropolitan Police Department and USCP if requested.

“GWPD works closely with our local/federal law enforcement partners by maintaining communication with them to fully understand potential threats to campus and posture our staff accordingly,” Tate said.

Officials issued a GW Advisory to University community members Friday, reminding them to not grant building access to unknown people and to close and lock all doors behind them. The advisory states a counter-protest called “Dear Fascist Losers: DC Means Don’t Come” will also take place Saturday at Freedom Plaza.

“While we do not anticipate impacts on campus, we expect an increased number of people gathering in and around Washington, D.C. and rolling road closures,” the advisory reads.

MPD will be “all hands on deck” across the city Saturday in light of a busy weekend, D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart told NBC News earlier this week. The Washington Post reported that city officials expect the gatherings will draw no more than a few hundred people on the same day as other planned events like the annual H Street festival, professional and collegiate athletic events and a Harry Styles concert.

City leaders distributed gun safety fliers to local businesses along H Street in Northeast Tuesday, reminding them that guns are prohibited inside in case the rally’s attendees are seen with firearms throughout the city, the Post report states.

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