Justice for J6 rally cost government agencies at least $790,000, estimates say

This is not the full cost to taxpayers as it does not include the response from the Capitol Police, the primary law enforcement agency that handled security on September 18, or the reinstallation of perimeter fencing. Instead, it primarily reflects costs incurred by DC police, estimated at $580,000, said Jenny Reed, district director of the Office of Budget and Performance Management.

Other DC agencies also incurred costs, with the Department of Public Works spending about $19,700 and the District Department of Transportation spending a “fairly marginal” amount, Reed said, noting that some other city agencies don’t. haven’t calculated their costs yet. Area police forces were also asked to respond, with officers from suburbs in Northern Virginia and Maryland responding. Police and the district and Alexandria sheriff’s offices said they would seek reimbursement from the federal government.

Agencies in and around the nation’s capital are used to responding to protests and demonstrations for various causes. But the Sept. 18 rally, held on federal lands near the U.S. Capitol, drew significant media attention and heightened security response, as it was organized to support those charged with the January 6 uprising. Organizers had insisted the rally would be peaceful and ultimately, on the day of the rally, protesters outnumbered journalists, police and counter-protesters.

Capitol Police said on September 18 that between 400 and 450 people were observed in the protest area; however, many of them were reporters and bystanders.

DC police had planned the rally, asking the entire force of more than 3,500 to work on September 17 and 18. That meant most of those officers weren’t getting overtime and instead were scheduled for alternate days off, Kristen Metzger said. , spokesperson for the department.

“MPD was there, we were fully activated, and we recognize the rights of everyone who comes here to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Metzger said of the rally. “I think we accomplished that that day. We ensured the safety of all who attended or visited or were in the area. It wasn’t like January 6 anymore.

It is difficult to compare the costs incurred by the government for demonstrations or protests in the district, which involve varying crowd sizes in different areas and frequently include responses from multiple local and federal departments. In some cases, authorities are stepping up their response, citing concerns about possible unrest or clashes.

The city’s bill is well below the $2.6 million estimate for the 2018 “Unite the Right 2” white supremacist rally, held a year after neo-Nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan and other far-right protesters gathered in Charlottesville for a violent rally. which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counter-protester. The 2018 rally attracted less than 40 supporters.

Capitol Police have not yet determined the final cost of responding to the Sept. 18 rally, but will release that information once it is finalized, which is expected to happen around December, a spokesperson said.

Capitol police leaders, in particular, had been criticized for inadequate security on January 6, when a violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, disrupting Congress during the certification of the election victory of the President Biden. After being caught off guard on Capitol Hill just over eight months prior, officials made the mistake of overpreparing for the Sept. 18 rally.

“What we know is the chatter we heard before January 6th, the threats proved to be credible,” Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said at a press conference on Tuesday. September 17. “So we’re not taking any risks.”

Congress has budgeted $23 million in fiscal year 2020, which began October 1, 2019 and ended September 30, 2020, for a fund to help the district pay for protest responses. and large-scale events, according to data provided by the city. The district spent $61 million during that time, which included the historic racial justice protests that followed the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

In fiscal year 2021, which included the September 18 rally, the federal government budgeted an estimated $55 million. However, Olivia Dedner, a spokeswoman for the city administrator’s office, noted that this did not take into account the deficit of more than $35 million from the previous fiscal year, for which she said the city had no not been reimbursed.

The Department of Defense, which oversees the National Guard’s deployment, spent about $153,000 to support law enforcement’s response to the rally; the Alexandria Police Department spent approximately $28,500, including the cost of dispatching 39 officers; the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office spent about $4,370 and the Maryland-National Capital Park Police spent about $7,000 to deploy seven mounted officers, according to initial estimates by those agencies.

The other departments did not immediately provide this information. In response to a request for documents, Fairfax County estimated it would cost The Washington Post nearly $300 to receive information about the costs associated with both the September 18 rally and the January 6 insurrection. . The department is currently collecting all relevant documents.

Arlington County Police did not provide an estimate to The Post, saying in a response to a public records request that the reimbursement case for the ‘Justice for J6’ rally ‘has not been created’ . The Post has submitted Records Requests to receive similar information from Montgomery County Police and the US Parks Police.

Patricia McCabe, spokeswoman for the United States Supreme Court, declined to provide information on the response of law enforcement and security to the September 18 protest, saying, “We are not discussing the security as a matter of Court policy.” The Capitol’s architect did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding the costs of reinstalling the temporary perimeter fence before the rally.

Peter Hermann contributed to this report.

Ashley C. Reynolds