Law enforcement officers and journalists greatly outnumbered a couple of hundred protesters who gathered at the Capitol over the weekend in support of the January 6 riots.
The “Justice for J6” rally was organized by nonprofit “Look Ahead America,” founded by former President Donald Trump’s campaign aide Matt Braynard. According to the group’s website, its mission is to stand up for “patriotic Americans who have been forgotten by our government.”
The event opened with Braynard remarking on the “wonderful” turnout and asking participants to refrain from violence and show respect to law enforcement officers.
Justice for J6 organizer Matt Braynard – with only a handful of rally-goers present – is being protected by a security guard with a singular air-pod. pic.twitter.com/zde7HavuuZ
— Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) September 18, 2021
Four people were arrested at the event: two were carrying weapons while two others were determined to have outstanding arrest warrants from Texas. Capitol Police also reported separating demonstrators during the rally “without incident.”
The day remained peaceful otherwise, a far cry from the events on January 6 where a right-wing mob stormed the Capitol while lawmakers were counting votes to confirm the presidential victory of Joe Biden.
Republican lawmakers largely avoided the rally, including those who had challenged Biden’s election.
“I’m a little disappointed,” said retired school teacher Linde Barrera, who came to the rally on a bus with about 20 other people. “I think that more people probably still wanted to come, but they were a little scared, so they canceled.”
About a mile from Capitol Hill, 75-100 counter-protesters gathered in Freedom Plaza to oppose the far-right gathering. Speakers from mutual aid groups and other activist groups highlighted the work they were doing for homeless people.
Despite no major violence occurring, law enforcement officials ensured that the city was prepared for events similar to January 6.
The police ramped up security around the Capitol, re-erected the Capitol fence, and activated the entire DC police force. Several roads downtown were closed until midnight, and security officials asked civilians to remain alert in case protesters carried firearms into the rally.