WASHINGTON, D.C. — United States Park Police were warned as early as Dec. 2020 that there was potential for an uprising at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was monitoring demonstrations leading up to the riots, newly released court documents have revealed.
The documents were released in response to a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch in May, after U.S. Park Police previously denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in March for all records related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In the days leading up to the attack, the department reportedly knew that the Jan. 6 event “would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020,” and were aware that white supremacist and armed militia groups were going to cause a “strong potential for violence,” according to a Jan. 26 statement by Acting Police Chief Yoganda D. Pittman.
Judicial Watch announced that it filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Capitol Police seeking for emails and videos concerning the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. READ HERE: https://t.co/9eGgqDOWm7
— Judicial Watch ⚖️ (@JudicialWatch) March 18, 2021
The Jan. 4 arrest of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio drew concern from officials, primarily because Tarrio allegedly “kept the more violent factions of the Proud Boys ‘under control’ during recent demonstrations in the District,” according to notes from a Jan. 5 Park Police Daily Operational Snapshot.
Officials described the possibility of violence “likely” if opposing groups came into physical contact with each other, but dismissed the notion of any “pre-planned acts of violence by a specific individual(s) or groups,” according to the document.
The purpose of the Jan. 6 rally was described in part as being “to protest election integrity,” according to a Jan. 5 incident briefing obtained by Judicial Watch.
The FBI and Information Operations Center (IOC) was tracking multiple events, including the Freedom Rally, Wild Protest, Jericho March and Save America Rally, according to a Jan. 6 situation report.
“This group has significant potential to attract counter-protesters, similar to events in November and December 2020. Multiple acts of violence have occurred in the downtown Washington, DC area during and after similar events hosted by the same organizer,” the report reads.
The FBI forwarded the report to Park Police Capt. Michael Libby, who told colleagues that there were approximately “200+ Proud Boys” on Capitol grounds and that the police were “monitoring the groups’ movements through the city,” according to the report.
Capitol Police reportedly deployed all available personnel and activated its SWAT team to prepare for the attack, but when USCP Chief of Police Steven Sund requested the National Guard and urged declaring a state of emergency, the Capitol Police Board denied the request.
During the riots, 1,200 Capitol Police personnel were on the grounds, but lacked adequate crowd-control equipment and clear direction from leadership to quell the “tens of thousands of insurrectionists,” according to Pittman. (RELATED: Capitol Police Apologize For Failures During Capitol Riot)
“The Department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough,” she said in a statement.
The newly released records show that D.C. police were made well aware of the potential for violence on Jan. 6 as early as Dec. 2020.
Officials broke up a fight involving members of the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, on Dec. 12, 2020 during a 2000-person rally on the Washington Monument grounds, according to the situation report.
A MPD Homeland Security Bureau official told Capitol Police and Park Police colleagues in a Dec. 19 email that he “hoped” that an announcement about an upcoming pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6 was a “hoax.”
A Lieutenant of the MPD Special Operations Branch messaged colleagues on Dec. 22, “Well, here we go again. I am sure you are aware of the First Amendment demonstrations to occur again on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021; hopefully it will not be as big as the November 14th or December 12, 2020 weekend.”
Park Police expressed concern that “individuals may display aggressive and desperate behavior as they interpret 6 January as their final opportunity to act on their grievances,” in a Dec. 28 executive brief. “We are aware that many members of the far-right group ‘Proud Boys’ plan on being in Washington on this date.”
The report referenced the Dec. 25 Nashville, TN, bombing as a “vivid reminder as to the despair and the dedication to act that exists from a small minority of individuals” regarding political outcomes, according to the document.
At the time of the report’s release, the motive of the attack was unknown, but the document stated that there were social media posts conspiring that “election data stored at the AT&T building was targeted by the bomber.”
The FBI concluded in their investigation of the incident that the bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner, suffered from psychological issues and was a longtime conspiracy theorist, but had no “broader ideological motive to use violence to bring about social or political change.”
“These previously hidden documents show that federal law enforcement was both closely monitoring the First Amendment-protected activities of Americans and had plenty of warning there would be a huge crowd at the US Capitol on January 6,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.