The U.S. Capitol Police arrested a Californian on Monday who had multiple knives in his swastika-painted truck outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington.
A special operation division officer was patrolling the area near the DNC at about midnight when he noticed a Dodge Dakota pickup with swastikas and other white supremacist symbols painted on it, according to police. The truck had a picture of an American flag in place of a license plate.
When the officer pulled over the truck, police noticed a bayonet and machete inside the vehicle ― weapons that are illegal in Washington. Police arrested the driver, 44-year-old Donald Craighead of Oceanside, California, on suspicion of possession of prohibited weapons.
Police said Craighead told officers he was “on patrol” and began talking about white supremacist ideology and other rhetoric associated with white supremacy. It’s unclear if Craighead belongs to any extremist group, though Capitol Police investigators are continuing to look into the suspect’s actions.
The arrest comes just days before a far-right rally scheduled near the U.S. Capitol in which extremists and followers of former President Donald Trump are expected to rail on behalf of rioters who have been charged in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. The rally, “Justice for J6,” is planned for Saturday on the West Lawn of the Capitol, where rioters moved on the building after Trump told them at a Jan. 6 rally to go there and “fight like hell.”
“We are here to protect everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement. “I urge anyone who is thinking about causing trouble to stay home. We will enforce the law and not tolerate violence.”
Capitol Police officials said they had held planning meetings for the demonstration throughout the last month and continue to share important intelligence with officers, law enforcement partners and Congress. The Capitol Police Board approved a plan on Monday to temporarily put up a fence around the Capitol, just two months after the inner-perimeter fence was finally taken down after the Jan. 6 riot.
The board also issued an emergency declaration last week that will go into effect at about the time of the demonstration. The declaration allows the department to deputize outside law enforcement officers ― such as Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department ― as U.S. Capitol Police special officers.
“We want to reassure everyone these are temporary measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” Manger said. “We are extremely grateful for the support we continue to receive from the local community and our Congressional stakeholders as we carry out our critical mission.”
The Capitol Police department said that it is unclear if Craighead was planning to attend the rally or if he has ties to any previous cases in the area. His arrest comes as the FBI continues its hunt for the suspect who planted pipe bombs outside the DNC and its Republican counterpart the night before the Jan. 6 insurrection.
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