In tense Washington, police outnumber protesters on January 6
Washington In a city still on the brink after the Jan. 6 uprising, law enforcement swarmed into the Capitol on Saturday over fears a rally in support of jailed rioters could turn violent. you did not.
The crowd was scattered and accidents were few. The only obvious parallels to the riots by Donald Trump supporters more than eight months ago were the false allegations made by rally organizers about the violence on the day Congress met to ratify Joe Biden.
The low turnout has also raised questions about whether such gatherings will have any staying power as organizers try to capitalize on the January 6 anger without the former president’s presence.
Law enforcement prepared for a showdown by erecting a temporary fence around the Capitol and deploying heavy trucks to circle the rally site. Local police departments and the US National Guard were on alert.
Security may not have been necessary in the end, but the twists and turns around the lie that the 2020 elections were stolen and the presence of extremists and white nationalist groups on January 6 made it impossible to predict how such events would unfold.
The US Capitol Police said it received intelligence before the weekend that was similar to what it missed in January, when law enforcement was 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 gathering on Saturday. Rally organizer Matt Brainard took elected officials to the task of not supporting those now imprisoned and introduced candidates vying for elected office.
The demonstrators stood by and jeered. Some carried anti-Trump banners and police quickly removed a man who had confronted some pro-Trump protesters, and used bicycles to protect him from the crowd as they escorted him down the street.
Police said one person in the crowd was arrested for carrying a knife, and another man was arrested after an officer reported seeing him carry what appeared to be a pistol. Two other people that police say are wanted in Texas – on charges of possession of firearms and violation of surveillance – were also arrested after they were arrested near the Capitol on Saturday morning.
Brainard, a former Trump campaign staffer, opened on a calm, thoughtful tone. He said the event was for defendants being held behind bars.
On January 6, dozens of law enforcement officers were bloodied and beaten as a mob of pro-Trump rioters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, stormed the Capitol and quickly overran the overcrowded police force. One officer was repeatedly beaten and shocked with a stun gun until he had a heart attack. Another was foaming at his mouth and screaming for help while the rioters stunned him between two doors and hit him in the head with his own weapon.
The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of court and prison records of Capitol riot suspects to reveal the number of detainees and found that nearly 63 are being held in federal custody awaiting trial or hearings.
At least 30 are imprisoned in Washington. The rest are locked up in facilities across the country. They said they were being treated unfairly, and one of the defendants said he was beaten.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Circuit has set standards for judges to apply in deciding whether to imprison an accused in the Capitol riots. A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals ruled in March that rioters accused of assaulting officers, breaching windows, doors and barricades, or playing leadership roles in the attack were in a “different category of severity” than those who only shouted violence or entered the building after storming it.
Among the speakers at the rally was the girlfriend of Jonathan Millis, who was seen on camera on Jan. 6 using a stick to attack officers who were outside the Capitol in an attempt to rein in the mob, authorities said.
Meles can be heard saying to “take off their masks,” and video clip shows him repeatedly hitting and stabbing officers with a stick, according to court documents. Authorities said in court documents that he appeared to be trying to strike the officers’ necks between their helmets and jackets, as they had no protection.
Other defendants ordered detained while awaiting trial include a man accused of dragging a police officer down a flight of stairs to be beaten by the American flag and another man accused of leading a group of rioters down the Capitol steps to confront the officers.
But the judges released the vast majority of the accused, including more than a dozen members and members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group, who were charged in perhaps the most serious case filed so far in the attack. Only three people charged in the Oath Keepers conspiracy case remained in custody after judges said they appeared to play a leadership role in the alleged plot.
In the weeks leading up to January 6, the department’s guards prepared as if they were headed for war, and they came to Washington prepared for violence and for that day dressed in combat gear, helmets and tactical vests, authorities said.
Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press authors Michael Kunzelman, Marie Claire Galonic, Jack Belloud, Lisa Mascaro, Amanda Seitz, Ashraf Khalil and Robert Burns contributed to this report.
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