- Law enforcement in DC was on high alert for a rally planned in support of the January 6 defendants.
- The rally drew smaller than expected crowds, despite Trump voicing his support for the defendants.
- Police, many in riot gear, outnumbered rallygoers, according to AP.
Heightened fears surrounding the “Justice for J6” rally held in Washington DC on Saturday turned out to be largely unwarranted, as the event failed to draw significant crowds.
The event was held in support of defendants charged with “nonviolent offenses” in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, according to a statement issued by the group organizing the event. More than 600 people were arrested in relation to the Capitol riot and are facing charges ranging from unlawful or violent entry to assault of a police officer.
The rally sparked security concerns, prompting police to place fencing around the Capitol earlier this week. A Department of Homeland Security official said they expected about 700 people to show up for the rally.
Former President Donald Trump appeared to express solidarity with the rallygoers in a statement issued Thursday.
“Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election. In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!” he said.
But according to various reports, turnout was less than expected. Capitol Police said only about 400 to 450 people attended the rally. Photos and videos showed a massive police presence and plenty of media.
—The New York Times (@nytimes) September 18, 2021
The Associated Press reported that law enforcement on the scene, many in riot gear, easily outnumbered the rallygoers. Capitol Police said they arrested at least four people, including one man with a handgun.
Speakers at the rally included candidates for elected office. AP reported false claims were shared about the integrity of the 2020 election and about the violence on January 6.
One of the speakers was the girlfriend of Capitol riot defendant Jonathan Mellis, who was captured on video attacking police officers with a stick on January 6, according to AP.
Matt Braynard, the event’s organizer and a former Trump campaign staffer, called the rally a success on Twitter and thanked law enforcement who were there.
“Good energy, good message, everybody home safe. Mission accomplished,” he wrote.