A strong police presence was met with a small, peaceful crowd in the District of Columbia’s Union Square to protest the imprisonment of Jan. 6 rioters on Saturday.
The “Justice for J6” rally had an expectancy of 700 people, but only about 400 came out with journalists and photographers making up a sizable number of the crowd.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s underwhelming turnout was attributed to the fear that the “mainstream media” evoked in potential rally-goers.
Co-host of the event, Cara Castronuova, read an open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying,“How dare you tell me or other Americans that love their country not to attend a peaceful protest to advocate against the abuses being perpetrated on U.S. citizens for the events of Jan. 6th?”
From the rally’s start at noon, supporters and hosts made it clear that the “political violence” on Jan. 6 deserved conviction; however, they believed there were many non-violent protesters who were unjustly imprisoned.
“This is about the many people who were that day, who have not been charged with violence not been accused of assaulting a police officer, destroying property… This is about equal treatment under the law,” host Matt Braynard said.
Braynard later drew comparisons to other political protests that he believed were similar in action but differed in consequence. Specifically citing the protesters of the Kavanaugh hearing who were released from custody in less than 24 hours.
In addition, he demanded that the 14,000 hours of Jan. 6 footage be released to the public along with transparency and a public investigation into the events of Jan. 6 including the death of Ashli Babbitt, a woman who was shot after breaching the Capitol building.
Despite callouts from the crowd questioning the lack of support from the Republican Party, Braynard emphasized that this was not a partisan issue.
“If this was the other way around, if this had happened to the other political party I would be here today doing the exact same thing,” Braynard said.
Throughout the hour-long rally, there was a slew of speakers including congressional candidate Mike Collins and the family members of those serving time in prison for their actions on Jan. 6.
A concerned mother of a detainee wrote a letter to Braynard that detailed an ongoing seven months without shaving and dinner that consisted of 4 slices of bread, a cookie, and tartar sauce.
“His jailers treat these men like scum, there is absolutely no presumption of innocence,” she said.
The mother went on to say that the treatment her son faced reminded her of the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis, saying she was quickly losing confidence in our country.
After her comments, a father said that he and his son were at the Capitol together “100% of the time” on Jan. 6. Even so, his son was arrested on Feb. 4 and had 15 FBI agents kick his door in, handcuff him and drag him out of his house. His son served six months in prison before being released.
Just a few hundred feet away from these speeches, counter-protestors argued that those who stormed the Capitol building were not the brave men and women described on Union Square.
“They’re insurrectionists… they interrupted one of the most sacred institutions that we have in the country,” a counter-protester said.
Capitol Police reported only having to break up one confrontation according to FOX 5, and that they did not have to make any rally-related arrests.
Despite the overwhelming precaution, Saturday’s gathering ended up being more of a speaking event than an impassioned rally, with a few sporadic chants.