Extremist groups and right-wing figures have warned their supporters not to attend a far-right rally in support of those arrested for participating in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, calling the event a “false flag” and “trap”.
Capitol Police are bracing for potential violence at the “Justice for J6” protest rally, which takes place in Washington DC on Saturday, and security fences have once again been erected around the Capitol building.
But local and federal officials also said they did not expect more than 700 people to attend the protest, a far cry from the tens of thousands of esteemed Donald Trump supporters who converged on Capitol Hill in January.
On right-wing social media platforms, “most people who talk about the event in any capacity tell people to avoid DC,” said Cassie Miller, senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Any extremist group that talks about it is warning people against participating. “
The common narrative in right-wing forums is that the rally is “a trap that has been set by federal authorities” that will leave participants vulnerable to “surveillance and arrest,” Miller said.
While intelligence officials reportedly warned in early September that the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were planning to attend the rally, the two groups, whose members face some of the most serious charges in the January 6 attack, have since distanced themselves from the event. A Proud Boys social media channel posted “Sounds like bait” and wrote “We’re not going and neither should you.” In an interview on the way to prison, the group’s president, Enrique Tarrio, said: “The Proud Boys will not be here. WUSA 9 reported.
“I don’t know of any specific plan to attend, other than what we watch the media do,” Kelly SoRelle, lawyer for the Oath Keepers, told Mother Jones.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham called the rally “stupid” and told viewers she had never heard of it before seeing a report about it on CNN.
“A lot of people” see the protest as “even a false flag operation,” Ingraham warned on September 10. “Have renowned conservatives signed? Of course not. There is obviously nothing legitimate about it.
Even a Facebook chat moderated by the organizing group for Saturday’s rally features comments like “This will end badly” and “It’s not us if anything happens.”
Some prominent Republican members of Congress who defended the Capitol rioters as political prisoners, including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn, told Politico a week before the protest that they would not attend.
Donald Trump himself regards the “Justice for J6” rally as a cut-up and has made no public comment on it, The New York Times reported.
“I don’t know a single person from the Maga movement who is leaving,” Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone, one of the defendants in a new lawsuit filed by seven Capitol Hill cops against people who, they said, helped send a violent mob to the Capitol to attack them, Russian state-funded television station RT told RT. “Patriots: Stay away from Washington,” Stone added.
Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally is hosted by Look Ahead America, a group led by Matt Braynard, who was briefly employed by Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 as chief data and strategy officer, BuzzFeed reported News in August.
Look Ahead America is also hosting more than a dozen state-level “Justice for J6” rallies on September 18 and 25, most in state capitals, according to the organization’s website.
Braynard said the protest was organized in support of “non-violent offenders” indicted in connection with January 6. He continues to defend the event against criticism from all sides. He tweeted at Ingraham: “You claim ignorance despite the fact that we sent about 30 press releases to producers in your network during this period” and asked to appear on his show. More recently he posted a list of TV stations interviewing him on the rally, which did not include Fox News, and wrote, “Who’s missing? Hmmm. “
When asked to respond to widespread right-wing comments that his rally was a ‘set-up’ and a ‘trap’, Braynard called the questions an ‘encyclopedia of disinformation’ and wrote that he was unlikely to “drop everything” to comment on what. he thought it would be a “hit”.
A former Trump campaign employee told BuzzFeed News that Braynard “wasn’t really qualified” for his 2016 job, and that he was hired at a time when the campaign lacked credibility, Braynard comments. qualified as “lies”.
Braynard himself has described being repeatedly excluded from his attempts to join Operation Trump after 2016. He said he was told someone had blocked his efforts to brief the Trump campaign on voter fraud. after the 2020 election, arguing that “Matt is difficult to work with, don’t let him in,” BuzzFeed News reported.
Most recently, Braynard made headlines for his allegations and testimony about voter fraud in the 2020 election. He raised over $ 675,000 to investigate the fraud allegations using GiveSendGo, a site popular Christian crowdfunding with the Proud Boys and other far-right figures.
The rhetoric ahead of Saturday’s rally marks a stark contrast to the tenor and volume of comments leading up to Jan.6, Miller and other experts said.
Analysts watching the far right “don’t expect there to be a huge turnout at this event,” said Miller, of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Nonetheless, there are legitimate concerns that it could catalyze violence, particularly following recent incidents in Washington including a several-hour police standoff with a man claiming to have a bomb outside the State Capitol. United, and the arrest of a man with a machete and bayonet in a truck decorated with white symbols of power that was parked not far from the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
“There is always the possibility of attacks by isolated actors in this kind of situation,” Miller said.
Regardless of what happened on Saturday, Miller said, the “dangerous” account that the January 6 defendants were “political prisoners” had started to spread more widely in right-wing circles and had been endorsed by Cawthorn , freshman congressman from North Carolina, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
More than 600 people have been charged to date in connection with the January 6 insurgency, and federal officials continue to announce new arrests. Many of those arrested face relatively low-level charges, and unlike most people indicted in the federal justice system, the vast majority of them were released before trial, according to Guardian analysis. which, according to some former federal defense attorneys, reflected the race bias in favor of the predominantly white defendants on Capitol Hill.