Justice for J6
Matt Braynard 20210918-2.jpg
Former Trump campaign staffer Matt Braynard speaking at the Justice for J6 rally
DateSeptember 18, 2021
Caused byRight-wing support for the participants of the 2021 United States Capitol attack[1] – opposition to arrests and criminal charges brought in the attack
MethodsDemonstration
Number
100–200

The Justice for J6 rally was a right-wing demonstration in Washington, D.C., in support of hundreds of people who were arrested and charged following the 2021 United States Capitol attack.[2] It occurred on September 18, 2021.[3][4] The event attracted 100–200 activists and proceeded mostly peacefully. It was organized by a former Trump campaign staffer.[5] The event was noted for extensive security preparations and concerns over possible unrest.

Background

Further information: Criminal charges brought in the 2021 United States Capitol attack

FBI poster seeking information on violence at the Capitol published January 6, 2021
FBI poster seeking information on violence at the Capitol published January 6, 2021
On January 6, 2021, supporters of President Donald Trump attempted to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden by attacking the U.S. Capitol, disrupting the joint session of Congress assembled to count electoral votes to formalize Joe Biden's victory.[6] By the end of the month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had opened more than 400 case files and issued more than 500 subpoenas and search warrants related to the riot.[7] The FBI also created a website to solicit tips from the public specifically related to the riot[8] and were especially assisted by the crowdsourced sleuthing of a group that calls themselves "Sedition Hunters."[9] By the end of 2021, 725 people were charged with federal crimes.[10][11]

In August, a Justice for J6 rally was organized by Look Ahead America, a nonprofit led by former Trump campaign staffer Matt Braynard, was scheduled to be held on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol starting at 12:00 p.m. ET on September 18. It was Look Ahead America's third rally held in Washington, D.C.; its first was outside the Department of Justice on June 19, 2021, and its second was outside of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections facility on July 17.[12][13][14][15]

Look Ahead America had also held satellite rallies in nine states prior to the September 18 rally. On July 14 it held a rally in Arizona, which included speakers U.S. Representative Paul Gosar and State Representative Mark Finchem.[16][17][18] The other eight rallies held on July 17, 2021, took place in Georgia,[19] Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.[20][21]

The rallies were intended as a show of support for people charged for participating in the attack. Lawmakers and law enforcement officials expressed their concerns over possible unrest at the rally.[1][22][23] On August 27, 2021, Matt Braynard on behalf of Look Ahead America and Cara Castronuova of Citizens Against Political Persecution (CAPP) filed a formal complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee regarding the plight of the prisoners.[24][25]

Preparations

For broader coverage of the fence around the U.S. Capitol, see Security preparations for the inauguration of Joe Biden § Removal of the fencing.

Matt Braynard stated in interviews that the rally is “100% about #JusticeforJ6 and not the election or any candidate."[26] The official Look Ahead America website discouraged attendees from wearing political gear, stating "Do not wear or bring political, candidate, or another organization’s paraphernalia. This includes clothing or banners supportive of President Trump or President Biden."[27]

In response to the rally's announcement, the Metropolitan Police Department was activated for September 18. There were also discussions about restoring the fencing surrounding the Capitol, though they were initially met with bipartisan disapproval. It was unclear how many people planned to attend the event.[22][1][23]

A counter-rally was subsequently scheduled on the same day, heightening concerns over participants of both events clashing. The Department of Homeland Security shared an intelligence briefing memo to state and local law enforcement agencies, which warned of potential violence at the rally and on the day before. The memo did not identify a specific or credible plot associated with the event, but it also warned that individuals and small groups can "mobilize to violence with little-to-no warning, particularly in response to confrontational encounters with perceived opponents or calls for escalation by key influencers."[28][29]

The protective fencing was restored along with facial recognition cameras[a] around the Capitol by September 13, and multiple congressional offices were slated to close on September 17. Although the fencing was removed shortly after the rally, the facial recognition cameras continue to be deployed around the capitol.[30][31][32]

Rally

100 to 200 demonstrators attended the rally.[33] Capitol Police made an estimation that a maximum of 450 people were in the crowd, which was made up of demonstrators, counter-demonstrators, and journalists, with the media reported to even outnumber the demonstrators at times.[34][35] Among the speakers were Look Ahead America rally organizer Matt Braynard, Citizens Against Political Persecution co-founder Cara Castronuova, and family members of the prisoners. No member of Congress attended, though Mike Collins, who is running for Georgia's 10th district, and Joe Kent, who is running for Washington's 3rd district, did.[36][37][38]

The event occurred without incident and remained a peaceful demonstration as planned. Four people were arrested before and after the rally, although D.C. police said they made no arrests related to the rally.[35][36] Earlier in the day, two people were arrested for outstanding firearms violation warrants. One man arrested nearby was found to be in possession of a large knife.[35][36] Another arrested 15 minutes after the rally, a US Customs and Border Protection officer, was found to be in possession of a gun but was not prosecuted.[5][36][39]

The rally was noted for its contradictory statements.[40][41]

The event saw heightened security presence by the U.S. Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies.[34]

Events elsewhere

Both during and after the September 18 rally, Look Ahead America had rallies in 17 other states.[42][27][43] Two were held on the same day as the rally: Charlotte, North Carolina and Seattle, Washington.[44][45] The 15 other state rallies occurred in Arizona,[46] California, Colorado,[47] Georgia,[48] Iowa, Kansas,[49] Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina,[50] Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.[51]

2022 Candlelight Vigils

On the 1-year anniversary of the January 6 incident, Look Ahead America organized 35 candlelight vigils taking place across 12 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.[52][53][54] Among these locations were:

Micki Witthoeft, the mother of Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt who was killed during the riot,[64] was present at the vigil in Washington, D.C.[65][66]

Reactions

Ahead of the event, Braynard criticized the security measures established in response to the event, saying they were designed to discourage and deter participants.[28] In response to the planned rally, former U.S. President Donald Trump called it a "setup" for Republican voters, saying, "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."[67] For the most part, Congressional Republicans had distanced themselves from the demonstration, saying little if anything about it.[68][69] On social media, far-right groups, such as the Proud Boys, and certain allies of such groups, had been urging their members and others not to attend the event.[5][28]

According to Mother Jones, extremism experts criticized the media for exaggerating the potential for violence at the rally prior to it taking place.[70]

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) described security at the event as more "well-prepared" in contrast to the 2021 Capitol attack.[34]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The fencing had been raised in the aftermath of the Capitol attack, and subsequently removed in July.

References

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  3. ^ "Justice for J6: What to know about Saturday's rally for those arrested in the Capitol riots". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  4. ^ Kevin Johnson; Bart Jansen; Savannah Behrmann; David Jackson. "Rally for Capitol riot suspects draws small crowd of protestors amid heavy security". USA TODAY.
  5. ^ a b c Deliso, Meredith (September 18, 2021). "'Justice for J6' updates: Sparse crowd met with massive police presence at right-wing rally". ABC News. Retrieved September 18, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Reeves, Jay; Mascaro, Lisa; Woodward, Calvin (January 11, 2021). "Capitol assault a more sinister attack than first appeared". Associated Press. Retrieved January 12, 2021. Under battle flags bearing Donald Trump's name, the Capitol's attackers pinned a bloodied police officer in a doorway, his twisted face and screams captured on video. They mortally wounded another officer with a blunt weapon and body-slammed a third over a railing into the crowd. 'Hang Mike Pence!' the rioters chanted as they pressed inside, beating police with pipes. They demanded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's whereabouts, too. They hunted any and all lawmakers: 'Where are they?' Outside, makeshift gallows stood, complete with sturdy wooden steps and the noose. Guns and pipe bombs had been stashed in the vicinity. ... The mob got stirring encouragement from Trump and more explicit marching orders from the president's men. 'Fight like hell,' Trump exhorted his partisans at the staging rally. 'Let's have trial by combat,' implored his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whose attempt to throw out election results in trial by courtroom failed. It's time to 'start taking down names and kicking ass', said Republican Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama. Criminals pardoned by Trump, among them Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, came forward at rallies on the eve of the attack to tell the crowds they were fighting a battle between good and evil
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