In the American Revolution, Kelly Meggs, referring to the famed Paul Revere, posted on an encrypted Signal group chat on January 2. Organizers and protestors, who were later indicted on January 6, spoke about a quick response force (QRF), which would be waiting on the shore of the capital city, ready to bring in weapons.
Meggs, 52-year-old Dunnellon resident and self-described leader for the state chapter Oath Keepers, has compared the storming the Capitol building with the Boston Tea Party in 1773. He posted a map showing the city with two water landings close to the Lincoln Memorial and another south near the Ohio Drive tidal basin. These were labeled QRF rally points where protesters could pick up their “long guns.”
Joshua James, another protestor indicted, was also sent a message asking about weapons. Unindicted friends were advised by him that it was better to leave them at home and that the QRF would have weapons.
Others–Derek Kinnison (“midnight rider”), Tony Martinez (“blue collar patriot”), Ronald Mele (“redline”), and Erik Scott Warner (“silver surfer”)–discussed their own weapons plans. The four men were photographed on January 2, making a hand gesture associated with the Three Percenters. They then got in an SUV and drove cross-country from Temecula (California) to Washington, DC. They were known as the D.C. Brigade. Kinnison posted a picture of himself wearing a shotgun ammunition bandolier around his body. He posted, “We will have lots of gear from medical kits to radios, multiple cans bear spray, knives, and flags, [armor] plates goggles, helmets, and radios to radios.”
The Daily Beast reported that the day was marked by protestors discussing bringing guns into the District and breaking into federal buildings to attack law enforcement. Fox News reported that Enrique Tarrio, leader of Proud Boys, declared on social media that his group would be equipped for violence at the Joint Session of Congress.Army General Mark Milley feared that Donald Trump was stoking unrest in order to call out military troops. The president spoke Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Milley looks on after a briefing from senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House on October 7, 2019 in Washington, DC.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The Metropolitan Police Department also warned the U.S. Capitol Police and the National Park Service that they had received information that detailed plans were being made to storm federal buildings via their tip line.
Oblivious, Robert J. Contee III, Acting District of Columbia Police chief, met with Muriel Bowser. In light of the violence that occurred after peaceful protests in December, he recommended a curfew for January 6. Bowser said she would keep a curfew an option but would wait and see how protestors behaved the night before deciding.
Contee spoke with Steven Sund, chief of Capitol Police. Both men agreed which they didn’t need to alter their plans or arrangements for the 6th. The Capitol Police believed it could manage the situation with the D.C. police already assigned.
Also, meetings were held at the Pentagon to discuss Mayor’s request for D.C. National Guard support to ease the MPD load. The Defense Department received assurances from the FBI/Department of Homeland Security that they had no specific concerns about the protests. There was no rush. Based on Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, a final decision regarding military support would be made on January 4. There is no urgent need to act any faster—D.C. National Guard was still planning for 300 men, 150 per shift, to be present on the streets. Their QRF, 40 men, was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
Milley panicked even though all the law enforcement officials seemed to be underplaying violence potential on January 6. Milley told his closest aides that Milley believed President Donald Trump was inciting unrest, intending to use it to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out active-duty military troops. The Act would allow these troops to be exempted from the Posse Comitatus restrictions. (The president can invoke the Insurrection Act as an exception to Posse Comitatus.) this Civil War-era law limits the federal government’s use of military personnel to enforce laws
Milley said to his closest friends that listening was like reading George Orwell’s “1984”: “Lies can be the truth.” According to Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, “Evil is good” he said it. Unity is division.
Milley was informed by The Washington Post that all ten former secretaries of defense would be writing an opinion piece in The Washington Post on January 2. Milley was warned that the paper would not allow military personnel to interfere with peaceful transfers of power or settle electoral disputes. This message was intended for Christopher Miller, Acting Secretary of Defense. He was unknown to the group. Nobody knew his views or worked alongside the president and White House. According to Miller’s account, which Jonathan Karl read in “Betrayal,” he wasn’t.
After the new year, Milley and his staff began monitoring their Dataminr accounts closely. They checked “several hours a day” for signs of civil unrest on social media, as well as any protest plans that might indicate violence. Milley and his staff monitor over 500 million tweets each day to find breaking news, early warnings, and tips. Because Twitter had begun to censor users aggressively, nearly every January 6 protestors had moved to another social media platform.