Much-hyped 'Justice for J6' Capitol rally to support Jan. 6 prisoners a dud

·5 min read
Much-hyped 'Justice for J6' Capitol rally to support Jan. 6 prisoners a dud

Members of the media and law enforcement vastly outnumbered a few hundred rallygoers at a much-hyped event outside the Capitol on Saturday to support those who were arrested on suspicion of participating in nonviolent crimes that were connected to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

“I'm a little disappointed,” said Linde Barrera, a retired public school teacher from New York, who said she came to the rally on a bus with about 20 other people. “I think that more people probably still wanted to come, but they were a little scared, so they canceled.”

She held a sign with a message written in glitter glue: “Jan. 6 jailees should sue the swamp.”

(Graeme Jennings / Washington Examiner)

Others, though, were happy that anyone showed up at all. Matt Braynard, an organizer of the event who briefly worked for President Donald Trump's campaign, opened by remarking on the “wonderful” turnout.


"As much as it was discouraged, I'm glad to see some people," said Bernie Hoffman, a resident of nearby Arlington, Virginia. He also attended the Jan. 6 rally, though he said he did not go into the Capitol.

“It could have been me” being arrested on trespassing charges, he said. “What's going on in this place is way beyond outrageous.”

Law enforcement, wary of another security failure akin to Jan. 6, increased protection in anticipation of the event. Unscalable fencing that surrounded the Capitol for months after Jan. 6 was set up again in anticipation of the rally. Around three dozen Washington, D.C., snowplow trucks lined 3rd Street, blocking access to the road. Two squads of Capitol Police officers in riot gear walked up to the rally during the program to stand guard at the barrier behind the stage blocking access to the Capitol. A police helicopter flew overhead.

(Graeme Jennings / Washington Examiner)

But despite warnings of violence, no brawls broke out during the rally. Hoards of reporters and photographers were sprinkled throughout the crowd, gathering in large groups around any animated rallygoers who would speak to the media. A block away, left-wing protesters gathered for a small counterdemonstration.

The rally was organized by Look Ahead America, an organization founded by Braynard. He went to great lengths to counter claims that the event was pro-rioter, with instructions for the rally begging attendees to be respectful to law enforcement and not to bring campaign paraphernalia.

But prominent lawmakers and commentators had branded the event as a possibly violent sequel to Jan. 6. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that “these people are coming back to praise the people who were out to kill, out to kill members of Congress.”

News about the rally led Trump and some of his allies to dismiss the event, which may have depressed turnout.

“That’s a setup,” Trump told the Federalist on Thursday when asked about the rally. “If people don’t show up, they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s a lack of spirit.’ And if people do show up, they’ll be harassed.”

But two politicians did speak: Mike Collins, a Republican seeking an open seat for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, and Joe Kent, a Trump-endorsed challenger to Washington Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump in January after the riot.

Kent told the Washington Examiner that he did not hear Trump describe the event as a setup, but that he felt strongly about showing support for the “political prisoners.” Collins similarly said that he believes it is important that they “showcase what's going on, that our constitutional rights are being violated.”

No sitting lawmakers attended the event.

“It would’ve been nice to have them out here,” Kent said. “I’m a little disappointed that we didn't have anybody out here. … I guess there was some pressure coming from Kevin McCarthy, which doesn't surprise me at all.”

He added that if Republicans take control of the House after 2022, he would not vote for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to become speaker, mentioning Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Indiana Rep. Jim Banks as possible alternatives. He also floated going “full disruption” and supporting controversial Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, or Paul Gosar, should they seek the speaker’s gavel.

(Graeme Jennings / Washington Examiner)

Rallygoers largely respected the instructions not to bring campaign gear, with messages on signs including: “Free the mostly peaceful Americans,” “Trespassing is the new insurrection,” and “Our 6th Amendment guarantees the right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury.”

The crowd included a few characters and conspiracy theorists. One man was dressed as Batman. Another wore a raccoon skin hat and leather vest while carrying a large American flag. That man, who declined to give his name, said he was not inspired by “QAnon Shaman” Jake Angeli, a recognizable rioter who was arrested after Jan. 6, but makes custom leather goods.

(Graeme Jennings / Washington Examiner)

He said that police on Jan. 6 were “ordered to shoot someone at random” and that the government was “overthrown in a fascist coup.”

The conditions for those taken prisoner following the Jan. 6 riot have been called into question. Many of the detainees have been held in solitary confinement, an arrangement that has drawn bipartisan criticism.

"I do not believe in solitary confinement for extended periods of time for anyone,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, told the Washington Examiner.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham agreed, saying, “Nobody should be detained indefinitely in America for domestic law purposes” and adding the accused “deserve their day in court.”


Federal officials have arrested more than 500 people in connection to the Jan. 6 siege, hundreds of whom now face criminal charges, according to the Justice Department.

Washington Examiner Videos

Tags: News, Congress, Protests, January 6, January 6 Commission, U.S. Capitol Building, U.S. Capitol Police, Riots, Crime, Law

Original Author: Emily Brooks

Original Location: Much-hyped 'Justice for J6' Capitol rally to support Jan. 6 prisoners a dud