Federal law enforcement will be monitoring the anti-vaccine mandate rally, “Defeat the Mandates: An American Homecoming,” which is taking place at the national mall on Sunday for any signs of violence.
The event, which is billed as a peaceful protest, will begin with protesters marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, after which Robert F. Kennedy Jr., among other speakers, will give a speech. Kennedy’s nonprofit organization, Children’s Health Defense, is sponsoring the event.
The permit application for the event details that roughly 20,000 are expected to attend, 6,000 of which are expected to be federal workers opposed to the mandates.
But despite the protest’s peaceful appeal, it has caught the attention of the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Capitol Police, both of which have cited concerns of violence occurring at the event, as mentioned in their circulated security intelligence bulletins.
“This demonstration, as with most protest activity, is a soft target,” a Jan. 14 Capitol Police bulletin warned, Yahoo News reported. “Extremists have become more comfortable with violence as a means to achieve political goals. The threat of a lone wolf or smaller-scale attack on a soft target remains high.”
The unclassified memo, according to Yahoo, added there is no “expressed active or credible threats of violence,” but wrote “many threat actors have migrated communications to encrypted methods, making it difficult for law enforcement to detect and interrupt attack planning.”
Capitol Police fear the White House might be a target, since the protests against vaccine mandates originated there with President Joe Biden.
“Although there are no plans for participants to visit the White House, should the group turn disruptive or violent, the White House may be a target as protesters see many of the vaccine and mask-wearing mandates as being commanded by the Biden administration,” the USCP wrote.
Extremists groups labeled in the bulletin include the Proud Boys and the United Patriot Party which have been reported to be bussing in members to the event.
Louisa Clary, director of the March to Defeat the Mandates, after denouncing “all organizations and individuals who would use this march as an opportunity to further their own agendas of extremism, intolerance, and violence,” said the event’s organizers have hired private security contractors “who will work in concert with local and federal law enforcement” to ensure that the protest remains a peaceful one.
An earlier statement from the march’s organizers urged those participating in the event “be respectful to those affected local businesses, including dining establishments and hotels forced to operate under D.C.’s mandate.”
Last week, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a city-wide mandate calling for “establishments to verify that patrons are vaccinated against COVID-19” as part of a “city wide entry requirement.”
According to a senior law enforcement officer, “we are worried that with the new vaccine mandate there is potential for violence or conflict.
“What will happen when they are asked to show their vaccine card? We just don’t know,” the officer added.
However, as Kennedy suggests, any provocation at the event will be incited by the government.
“While coerced submission with experimental medical products is clearly government sponsored violence, the anti-mandates movement is committed to non-violent resistance,” Kennedy said. “In fact, there is a long history from Kristallnacht to Operation Northwoods, of totalitarian elements staging violent provocations as a pretext for escalating oppression against freedom movements like ours.
Max Rizzuto, a research assistant at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, has said he and his colleagues have been tracking discussions about Defeat the Mandates on social media and “conspiracists will play a central role in the day’s proceedings.”
The Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large private companies, and Friday a federal judge in Texas blocked the administration from enforcing its vaccine mandate for federal workers.
Newsmax’s Eric Mack contributed to this report.
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