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Capitol Police Wrongly Worried About Leftist Counterprotesters on January 6

Police sought to provide safe passage for Trump loyalists to the Capitol while “excluding access” to counterprotesters.

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

New documents relating to the United States Capitol Police Department’s preparation for the certification of the Electoral College showcase that they were concerned about the potential for violence on January 6 — but from leftist counterprotesters rather than Trump loyalists.

Of course, it was a mob of loyalists to the former president that ended up attacking the Capitol, attempting to interfere with the certification process for the 2020 presidential election. No leftist groups were involved in the day’s violence whatsoever, according to the FBI.

A document titled “The Civil Disturbance Unit Operational Plan,” first reported on by Politico, highlights a five-point plan for Capitol police on January 6. One of their five objectives was to “[e]stablish and maintain a fixed march route” for Trump supporters on the way to the Capitol “while excluding access to counter-protestors to minimize potential for violent interactions.”

“[C]ounter-protestors will be expected to attempt to gain access” to Trump loyalists “by entering shrubbery and other natural fixtures” in the area, the document noted.

Violence between the two sides never materialized in the way that Capitol Police had predicted. Instead, hundreds of Trump loyalists, emboldened by an incendiary speech given by former President Donald Trump minutes before that was riddled with lies and false claims, forced their way past barricades and broke windows and doors to the Capitol building, disrupting the proceedings on both floors of Congress. Lawmakers had to be evacuated as the mob of Trump supporters made their way into their offices and the Senate chambers.

Trump wrongly told his loyalists that day that the election was “stolen” from him by “radical left Democrats” and “the fake news media.” He also encouraged his supporters to descend on the Capitol to urge lawmakers to vote against certifying the Electoral College, telling them to “fight like hell,” and that they’d “never take back our country with weakness.”

Capitol police have been criticized for wrongly focusing their attention on the idea that leftist counterprotesters would spark violence in Washington D.C. that day, even though anger over the election’s outcome was emanating loudly from the far right. Indeed, one high-ranking official in the Capitol Police Department had insisted to his subordinates that morning that leftist violence would take place.

“With regards to pedestrian traffic on — on the grounds today, we anticipate a — a large presence for pro-Trump participants. What we’re looking for is any anti-Trump counterprotesters,” deputy chief Eric Waldow radioed officers that day.

Of course, police departments have a long history of enabling and even participating in far right violence, and they have been instrumental in suppressing leftist protest, particularly uprisings for racial justice, since the United States’ inception.

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