D.C. Rally in Support of Jan. 6 Insurgents Falls Flat (photos)


By most measures, the “Justice for J6” rally on Saturday Sept. 18 was underwhelming.

The estimated 100-150 who turned out in support of those criminally charged in the January 6 deadly pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol seemed to be swallowed up by a larger contingent of counter-protesters and journalists, not to mention a heavy police presence (many in riot gear). The number of participants was far fewer than the 700 people organizers had expected according to their permit application, and minuscule compared to the tens of thousands who brought pandemonium to the halls of Congress in an unsuccessful effort to halt the ratification of Electoral College results and overturn the election in Donald Trump’s favor. 

The “Justice for J6” rally was organized by Matt Braynard, a former staffer for the Trump Campaign who has since founded the right-wing political group “Look Ahead America.” Braynard and other speakers claimed that “hundreds” of Jan. 6 defendants are currently being held without bail as “political prisoners,” some in solitary confinement under deplorable conditions. In reality, of the 71 defendants still in jail nationwide out of the more than 600 arrested so far, 47 of them are charged with assaulting or interfering with law enforcement. None of the 37 currently held in D.C. jails is in solitary confinement or being denied medical care. Of those arrested, more than 50 have pleaded guilty to a variety of federal crimes. Six have been found guilty in court.

There were 138 officers (73 Capitol Police and 65 Metropolitan Police) injured, of whom 15 were hospitalized, some with severe injuries, either before, during or just after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Five died including Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer defending the House chamber on Jan. 6. She has been labelled a martyr by former President Trump, and by many in the crowd, who consider her a freedom fighter. 

As part of an effort to rewrite history, speakers at the “Justice for J6” rally implied that hundreds of rioters arrested for their actions that day committed no violence. One speaker who was introduced as the girlfriend of Jonathan Mellis, one of the January 6 detainees, railed against the conditions in the D.C. jail where he is currently being held. Mellis, of Williamsburg, Virginia, is accused of using a stick to beat police during the riot. The FBI says he made stabbing movements with it and seemed to be trying to spear officers between their helmets and their body armor.

Other speakers included former boxer-turned-right-wing-activist Cara Castronuova; and the father of a Capitol riot defendant. Two Republican congressional candidates also spoke. Notable by their absence at the noon-time rally on Union Square, about a block west of the Capitol, were any current GOP lawmakers — though some had been invited, according to rally organizers.

In contrast to January 6, this event was without major incident, with only 4 arrests — but law enforcement was leaving little to chance having earlier cancelled officers’ vacations. The Pentagon placed 100 National Guard troops on standby, and fencing that for several weeks was placed around the perimeter of the Capitol building after the Jan. 6 rioting had been reinstalled.

Curiously, among the many counter-protesters at the rally was Doug Hughes, who in 2015 flew a gyrocopter onto the West Lawn of the Capitol, near the site of the current demonstration. At the time he was carrying 535 letters, one to each member of Congress protesting what he referred to as bipartisan corruption and dysfunctional government. Hughes was subsequently jailed and lost his job but has no regrets. His sign on Saturday read: “THERE IS NO RIGHT OF INSURRECTION.”

To view a slideshow of Jeff Malet’s photos of Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally in Washington D.C. click on the photo icons below.

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