Despite reports of potential violence and beefed up security, including the National Guard and fencing, Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally attracted a few hundred demonstrators and ended without major incidence.
Photos and video taken around the Capitol show media and police, many heavily armed and in riot gear, vastly outnumbered protesters, who were gathered in support of defendants detained in connection with the January 6 Capitol attack.
200 journalists for an event that lasted 30 minutes and only a 100 or so attendees.
Great work everyone. https://t.co/QkhvpOclSE
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) September 18, 2021
Capitol Police in riot gear lined up near the stage, as speeches continue here outside the Capitol Building pic.twitter.com/Jrk53Vtte8
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) September 18, 2021
At the J6 rally on the Mall, protesters are outnumbered by reporters. Massive police presence: helicopter, police dogs, dump trucks lining 3rd St. The cost per protester would be interesting to work out. pic.twitter.com/YjXXTW4Cdi
— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) September 18, 2021
The event began with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the national anthem.
“We condemn all violence, political violence,” said Matt Braynard, founder of Look Ahead America and organizer of the rally. “I’m demanding that you all are respectful and obedient to police officers today. In fact, I’d like to start off — can we please have a round of applause to the main police officers?”
Then a string of speakers spoke for about 90 minutes and condemned anyone who committed violent acts on January 6, 2021, and called for justice for dozens of people who were arrested in the wake of the riot, many of whom, they said, did not commit violent acts but remain behind bars months later.
“[This is] not about President Trump,” Braynard said. “It’s not about President Biden. It’s not about the election. It’s not about what you think happened with the election.”
“This is about justice and disparate treatment and equal treatment under the law.”
In a video ahead of the rally, Braynard told people who wanted to attend not to wear shirts with any political message or disparaging signage.
Braynard pointed out that violent protests on the left, from Antifa in Portland, Oregon, to those who stormed congressional office buildings to protest then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, were never prosecuted. These protesters, he said, were bailed out on the same day they were arrested.
This is in contrast to what Braynard and other speakers said is the treatment of people now jailed in D.C. related to the Capitol attack, some of whom have been allegedly kept in solitary confinement, and others reportedly not allowed to shave or cut their hair.
Those in attendance called for transparency and the release of more than a dozen hours of video from January 6 still unseen by the public.
“Release the video!” the crowd chanted. “Equal justice or no justice!”
“We’re gonna raise our voices in defense of our fellow Americans who’ve had their rights and due process violated,” said Braynard, who called these individuals “political prisoners.”
“We’re gonna raise our voices, demanding justice for Ashli Babbitt and for the government to come clean on whatever involvement the FBI might have had in the events of January 6.”
Several speakers additionally addressed Saturday’s low turnout, blaming media hype and fear of violence for discouraging people from attending.
“Do you see an insurrection?” Cara Castronuova, founder of Citizens Against Political Persecution, said at the rally. “Who watched the news this week? Who read the media? Who was terrified to come here? Shame on the people in the system that put fear in the hearts of American citizens to stay home and to not come out, many of whom have called me and messaged me begging and pleading for me to stay home because they fear for my life and my freedom.”
“What kind of America has this become where people are afraid to come out and protest?” Castronuova said. “This is a peaceful protest.”
At the event’s conclusion, Braynard asked the crowd to leave promptly and orderly and encouraged them to thank police for their service as they departed.
While there were no major security incidents, Capitol Police have since confirmed four arrests: two for weapons possessions and two for outstanding warrants, reports NBC Washington:
Update: Capitol Police say four people were arrested amid the Justice for J6 rally today: one with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants. https://t.co/hj3sH1v45P
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) September 18, 2021
— Evan Koslof (@ekoslof) September 18, 2021
One agitator and maybe one j6 supporter has a literal stampede of press following them as cops separate the two pic.twitter.com/9IBxXXuY1o
— Elad Eliahu (@elaadeliahu) September 18, 2021
Braynard said similar rallies are planned around the country in the coming weeks.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to email@example.com.