Activists plan to hold a â# JusticeforJ6â rally on Saturday to support those accused of participating in the riot on Capitol Hill last January. The prospect has raised tensions in a city still reeling from the January assault on the Capitol. Here’s what you need to know about it:
Who organizes it?
A group called Look Ahead America, led by a former Trump campaign official named Matt Braynard. His group had previously organized two small events in DC in July: one in front of the Department of Justice and another at DC Prison. This is where people accused of participating in the invasion of the Capitol on January 6 are held.
What do they want?
Braynard and his group consider those accused of the riot to be “political prisoners” and, like many on the right, consider Ashli ââBabbitt, who was shot while trying to get through an opening in a door of the Capitol, like a martyr. . Braynard sent a letter to the US Department of Justice earlier this year asking it to drop all charges against the “nonviolent” protesters, calling their lawsuits “politically motivated” and claiming that the majority of people who invaded the Capitole âmay have been naÃ¯ve. , but did not act maliciously.
Where will it take place?
Surprisinglyâ¦ the Capitol! Union Square, just off Third Street, Northwest, across from the Capitol Reflecting Pool.
Do they really have a license for this?
Yeah. The United States Capitol Police will not release the permit or answer any questions about it, but said they are planning the rally, which is expected to take place in Union Square, in front of the Capitol reflecting pool. . The Washington post reported that Braynard estimated 700 people will attend the rally. Reached by phone, Braynard says he has “no way of knowing “how many people will be present. ” The Ieft wants to intimidate us by putting up fences, âhe says. On the right, “pretender dilettantes” are trying to drive down attendance, he says, referring to a common sentiment expressed in right-wing discussions and forums that the rally is some kind of federal government sting.
Who will speak?
The two main speakers are Joe Kent, who challenges GOP Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington state, and Mike Collins, a Republican running for Congress in Georgia. Braynard will welcome alongside Cara Castronuova, a pro-Trump boxer who appeared in season 11 of The biggest loser and founded a group called Citizens Against Political Persecution. Family members of those detained on Jan.6 will likely speak up, Braynard said.
Members of Congress including Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and Louie Gohmert attended Look Ahead America’s DC events in July. Greene and North Carolina representative Madison Cawthorn said they had no plans to attend, as did Gohmert and Colorado representative Lauren Boebert; none of the other member offices have yet answered questions from Washingtonian to find out if they plan to attend or speak. What about Trumpworld? The Daily Beast reported late last month that the former president’s circle had remained silent on the event so far. Braynard says “we had strong allies “but wouldn’t say if he has been in contact with anyone under Trump:” We will never disclose our conversations that we had. ”
How will this be different from the pro-Trump rallies held in Washington after Trump’s election loss?
Braynard intends that this event is focused only on those arrested on January 6. In a video, he asks attendees not to bring any clothes, signs or flags that proclaim anything other than concern for those arrested for their alleged actions that day. It doesn’t mean anything about specific candidates or the outcome of the 2020 election, he says, calling instead for “pure patriotism.”
Will bands like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers be there?
The signs mostly point to no, although intelligence from the Capitol Police indicates that the Proud Boys and neo-Nazi group White Lives Matter are promoting the event, and New York-based Proud Boy Randy Ireland called members of her group to attend, telling Portland that Babbitt’s mother intends to attend and that she “wants to feel safe”. In public messages, however, the Proud Boys organization discouraged members from attending, calling the event a “guaranteed disaster.”
Are there other gatherings planned elsewhere?
Look Ahead America is planning events in North Carolina and Washington state on the same day and more than a dozen more in the weeks to come.
What steps are the police taking to protect the Capitol and beyond?
The United States Capitol Police on Monday confirmed earlier information and said they had authorized the relocation of the fences that have been erected around the Capitol and issued an emergency declaration that will allow them to replace officers from the United States. other police forces. DC Police will be fully activated on Friday and Saturday and will promise an “increased presence around town where protests will take place.” Capitol police tell Washingtonian the fence footprint will occupy the same area as last spring. Metro plans normal service, says spokesperson Washingtonian, and said the Metro Transit Police Department “will have an increased presence in the system to ensure public safety, as is routine for large-scale events in the area.”
City officials fear that some participants are bringing guns, which would be illegal in the district, the Washington post reports. Authorities have offered signs to nearby businesses stating that guns are not allowed inside.
Braynard advised attendees to be ârespectful and kindâ to the police and advises attendees to travel in groups until they leave DC or make their way to their hotels. âThe numbers will keep you safe,â he said in a video.
Should we go down?
Gracious kindness, no. Even if this event goes well, the combination of pissed off Trump fans and Washingtonians who have tolerated unwanted visitors since “Pizzagate” is not happy. The pro-Trump rallies of last November and December were marked by violence organized by members of the Proud Boys, but there were numerous incidents like a normal-looking Trump fan kicking a child on a bicycle. Roll Call reported last week that police intelligence gathered talks about potential counter-protests, which Washingtonian has so far not been able to confirm, although the Shut Down DC group has encouraged people to call hotels and urge them not to greet anyone coming for the rally, and there is talk of a type of counter-programming gathering at Place de la LibertÃ©, about a mile and a half south of Union Square. The National Park Service has not received any requests for a permit for a counter-protest at Freedom Plaza or any other location, spokesman Mike Litterst said Washingtonian.
Our advice is not to go: stay at home, go to the H Street Festival, or check out the new painting that will envelop the Hirshhorn. You will not change anyone’s mind about this thing, and unlike those present, you have the glorious option of moving on with your life.