DC Police Outnumber Jan. 6 Protesters 09/19 09:24
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a city still on edge after the Jan. 6 insurrection,
law enforcement bore down in large numbers on the Capitol on Saturday over
concerns that a rally in support of the jailed rioters would turn violent. It
The crowd was sparse and incidents were few. The only clear parallels to the
riots more than eight months ago by supporters of Donald Trump were the false
claims put forth by the rally organizers about the violence that January day
when Congress met to certify the election of Joe Biden.
The low turnout also called into question whether such rallies will have any
staying power as the organizers attempt to tap into the rage of Jan. 6 without
the presence of the former president.
Law enforcement had prepared for a confrontation by erecting temporary
fencing around the Capitol and deploying heavy dump trucks to ring the rally
site. Local police departments and the U.S. National Guard were on standby.
The security might have been unnecessary in the end, but the volatility
around the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and the presence of extremists
and white nationalist groups on Jan. 6 have made it impossible to predict how
such events will go.
U.S. Capitol Police said they received intelligence information leading up
to the weekend that was similar to what was missed in January, when law
enforcement was only expecting a free speech protest and Trump supporters
violently stormed the Capitol.
Republican lawmakers, including those who had voted that day to challenge
Biden's election, avoided Saturday's rally. Rally organizer Matt Braynard took
elected officials to task for not backing up those now in jail and introduced
candidates who are running for elected office.
Counterprotesters stood by and jeered. Some held anti-Trump signs and one
man who had confronted some of the pro-Trump protesters was quickly removed by
police, who used bicycles to shield him from the crowd as they escorted him
down the street.
One person was arrested in the crowd for carrying a knife and a second man
was arrested after someone reported to officers that they saw him carrying what
appeared to be a handgun, police said. Two other people who police say were
wanted in Texas -- for a firearms charge and probation violation -- were also
arrested after being pulled over near the Capitol Saturday morning.
Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer, opened in calm and deliberate
tones. He said the event was for the defendants held behind bars.
On Jan.6, dozens of law enforcement officers were left bloodied and and
beaten as the crowd of pro-Trump rioters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear
spray, charged into the Capitol, quickly overrunning the overwhelmed police
force. One officer was beaten and shocked with a stun gun repeatedly until he
had a heart attack; another was foaming at the mouth and screaming for help as
rioters crushed him between two doors and bashed him in the head with his own
The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of court and jail records for the
Capitol riot defendants to uncover how many were being detained and found
roughly 63 held in federal custody awaiting trial or sentencing hearings.
At least 30 are jailed in Washington. The rest are locked up in facilities
across the country. They have said they are being treated unfairly, and one
defendant said he was beaten.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has set
standards for judges to apply in deciding whether to jail a Capitol riot
defendant. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in March that rioters
accused of assaulting officers, breaking through windows, doors and barricades,
or playing leadership roles in the attack were in "a different category of
dangerousness" than those who merely cheered on the violence or entered the
building after it was breached.
Among the rally speakers was the girlfriend of Jonathan Mellis, who was seen
on camera on Jan. 6 using a stick to attack officers who were outside the
Capitol trying to hold back the mob, authorities said.
Mellis was heard saying "knock their masks off," and video shows him
repeatedly striking and stabbing at officers with the stick, according to court
documents. Authorities said in court documents that he appeared to be trying to
hit the officers' necks between their helmets and body-armor, where they had no
Other defendants ordered locked up while they await trial include a man
accused of dragging a police officer down steps to be beaten by an American
flag and another man accused of leading a group of rioters up the Capitol steps
to confront officers.
But judges have released the vast majority of the defendants, including more
than a dozen members and associates of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group, who
are charged in perhaps the most serious case brought so far in the attack. Only
three people charged in the Oath Keepers conspiracy case remain locked up after
judges said they appeared to play a leadership role in the alleged conspiracy.
Authorities have said the Oath Keepers prepared in the weeks leading up to
Jan. 6 as if they were heading to war, came to Washington ready for violence
and dressed that day in battle gear, wearing helmets and tactical vests.