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TThe speaker at the podium came at the end of a touching speech in which she condemned the media for unfairly slandering the few hundred brave people who gathered outside the Capitol in Washington DC on Saturday. Today’s protest was not intended to condone the violence that occurred in the building behind it on January 6, but to ensure due process for those arrested that day. They were political prisoners and they must be released, she said, to roaring cheers. But old habits die hard. Moments later, at the mention of Nancy Pelosi’s name on the same podium, a familiar refrain echoed through the crowd: “Lock her up!” “

The “Justice for J6 rally,” hosted by former Trump campaign worker Matt Braynard, was always going to be a lot to a lot of people. In the week leading up to the event, there had been warnings of a repeat of that day’s violence, when thousands of pro-Trump supporters overpowered police to force their entry into the Capitol, where they took could stop the certification of the presidential election. . But many right-wing groups that carried out the violence had warned their supporters to stay away. Even Donald Trump, who urged his supporters to march on Capitol Hill in January, called Saturday’s rally a “set-up.”

In the end, no more than a few hundred showed up. Unlike January 6, when the Capitol Police were quickly overwhelmed, security was tightened around the building. Often the demonstrators outnumbered the journalists. Anyone with a megaphone quickly found themselves surrounded by a dozen cameras. A minor verbal disagreement between a rally participant and a counter-protester drew a crowd of around 40 journalists, who harassed the couple and followed them to the street.

For Braynard, the organizer, the small orderly crowd was a sign of justification. “It took real courage to come here today. You have my respect, ”he said. “A peaceful community organization from this day forward is ours. “

There hasn’t been a single message to date. Some were there simply to demand the release of “political prisoners” detained for their involvement in the Capitol riot. Some were there to denounce what they called a stolen election. Some just wanted to scream. Others were there to revisit the events of the day, to change the narrative and, in some cases, to rewrite the story.

Cara Castronuova, co-founder of Citizens Against Political Persecution, was there to counter “the January 6 account being an insurgency, while no one has been charged with the crime.” She added that there had to be a “real investigation” into the police violence that day.

Braynard came armed with something akin to a Powerpoint presentation, in which he featured photographs of other protests inside the Capitol, which he said had not received such harsh punishments.

Andres Bruce said the rally was aimed at supporting nonviolent protesters.

“We came because there are over 600 people who were indicted on January 6, and although those who committed violence should be punished, most of the charges are offenses and other non-violent charges and people are being punished disproportionately and they have not even been convicted of a crime, ”he said.

“If you have committed a violent act, then it is a crime, and it cannot be defended. But we are talking about people who wanted to voice their grievances to the government in a constitutionally protected way and get sucked in by a few violent agitators. Those who did not commit violence should not be confused with those who did, ”he said.

Much has been said about Black Lives Matter protesters receiving lesser sentences for their role in the protests (The Prosecution Project, which tracks cases related to the George Floyd protests last year, estimates that 1,425 people were billed).

“It looks like there are two different playbooks for two different ideologies,” said a man who called himself Carter Rocks. “If you support the DNC and you support Black Lives Matter and you support Antifa, you can ransack your town, but if you come here to protest peacefully and get dragged into a crowd, you are sitting in jail in this. moment without deposit. You have probably lost your job and possibly your home.

A small number of counter-demonstrators mingled with the crowd throughout the proceedings. “Don’t commit crime if you can’t make the time,” one sign read. “The January 6 rioters go to jail,” reads another.

Doug Hughes, 68, came from Florida with a very sharp message. His sign read “There is no right to insurrection,” and he felt like he had earned the right to distribute hard truths today. He was jailed for 120 days in 2016 for landing a gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to protest the campaign finance system.

“I am here because I have a perspective. I am a criminal. I spent four months in federal prison for a protest here in Washington DC in 2015. I violated national airspace. I knew I would be taken into custody. I know I pissed off super powerful people. I accepted that before doing what I did. These people say that there shouldn’t be any awkward consequences for what they did because of their point of view. The Justice Department doesn’t care about your point of view, ”he said.

“If you’ve committed a violent crime, or if you’ve been involved in a trespassing after that crime, and when you go out and announce that you’re part of the revolution, and the cops come knocking on your door, you can’t be surprised. I did what I did, it was non-violent, there was no material damage. You did a million dollars in damage, you hurt over a hundred cops, suck that, that’s gonna be fun. But you did, so face it.


The Independent Gt