By Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Nathan Elgren and Alana Durkin Richter
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a city still on the edge after a January 6 uprising, law enforcement gathered at the Capitol on Saturday as large numbers worried that a rally in support of prison rioters would turn violent. It didn’t.
The crowd was less and the incidents were few. The only apparent parallels to riots by supporters of Donald Trump more than eight months earlier were the false claims made by rally organizers about the violence that January when Congress met to ratify the election of Joe Biden.
The low turnout also raised questions about whether such rallies would have any lasting power as organizers attempted to tap into the January 6 rage without the former president’s presence.
Law enforcement had prepared for the collision by erecting temporary fencing around the Capitol and deploying heavy dump trucks to surround the rally site. The local police department and the US National Guard were on standby.
Security may be unnecessary in the end, but the instability surrounding the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and the presence of extremists and white nationalist groups on 6 January made it impossible to predict how such events would take place.
US Capitol police said they had received intelligence over the weekend that was similar to information they 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 voted that day to challenge Biden’s election, avoided Saturday’s rally. Rally organizer Matt Brainard lashed out at elected officials for not supporting the jailed people and introduced candidates who are running for elected office.
The protesters stood up and made fun of him. Some had anti-Trump signs and a man who had confronted some of the pro-Trump protesters was quickly turned away by police, who used a bicycle to save him from the crowd as he took to the street.
Police said one person from the crowd was arrested for carrying a knife and another person was arrested after someone told officers they saw him carrying a pistol. Two others who police say were wanted in Texas — on firearms charges and for probation violations — were also arrested Saturday morning after being pulled over near the Capitol.
Brainard, a former Trump campaign staffer, opened up in a calm and deliberate tone. He said the event was for the defendants behind bars.
On January 6, dozens of law enforcement officers were left covered in blood and beaten up as a crowd of pro-Trump rioters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, charged into the Capitol, quickly overtaking the overwhelmed police force. One officer was repeatedly beaten with a stun gun and jolted until he suffered a heart attack; Another was foaming from his mouth and shouting for help as the rioters crushed him between two doors and hit him on the head with their own weapon.
The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of court and prison records for Capitol riot defendants to find out how many were detained and about 63 held in federal custody awaiting trial or sentencing. Were were
At least 30 are jailed in Washington. The rest are locked in facilities across the country. He has said he was being treated unfairly, and a defendant said he was beaten.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sets standards for judges to determine whether to send a Capitol riot defendant to prison. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in March that the rioters charged with assaulting officers, smashing windows, doors and barricades, or taking a leadership role in the attack were more “dangerous” than those only in a different category of “, who were simply happy. Violence following a breach or entering a building.
Officials said the speakers at the rally included the girlfriend of Jonathan Melis, who was seen on camera on January 6 using a stick as they tried to stop a crowd outside the Capitol.
According to court documents, Melis was heard saying “take off their masks,” and the video shows her repeatedly striking and stabbing officers with sticks. Officials said in court documents that he appeared to be trying to hit the officers’ necks between their helmets and body-armour, where they had no protection.
The other defendants ordered closure while they awaited trial, accusing a police officer of dragging a police officer to beat him with an American flag and another man leading a group of rioters. was accused of doing.
But judges have released the vast majority of defendants, including more than a dozen members and allies of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group charged with assault in perhaps the most serious case ever brought has gone. Only three people charged with conspiracy to swear oaths were locked up as judges said they played a leadership role in the alleged conspiracy.
Officials have said that in the weeks leading up to January 6, sworn guards dressed as if they were going to war came to Washington prepared for violence and dressed in combat gear that day, wearing helmets and tactical vests.
Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman, Marie Claire Jalonik, Jacques Billeaud, Lisa Mascaro, Amanda Seitz, Ashraf Khalil and Robert Burns contributed to this report.