Pro-insurrectionists gather for a small, short rally at Capitol Hill

A rally outside Capitol Hill drew only a few hundred protesters. Called “Justice For J6,” the event was held in support of the January 6th insurrectionists who were detained and was organized by a member of Trump’s re-election campaign. Police in riot gear lined the area and a temporary fence was re installed to prevent access to the Capitol. NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardins joins to discuss.

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  • Michael Hill:

    NewsHour Correspondent Lisa Desjardins was in the capitol on January sixth and she is there today covering the rally, law enforcement and security.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The focus of this rally was to be on those people who have been arrested from January 6 with nonviolent crimes who are still being detained. Those behind the rally say that indefinite detention bridges those people's constitutional rights. And they are very careful to say they are separating out those with nonviolent offenses, largely trespassing inside the U.S. Capitol with those who have violent offenses like assaulting police officers.

    We know of some 600 people arrested for January 6 crimes that about 200 or so have those more violent crimes charged against them. There are more that have trespassing and lesser crimes charge. Now, when you talk to those counter protesters here, they say that that's a dangerous message. They say that the justice system locks up people for small crimes, including small drug crimes, for indefinite periods of time often, and that they think that this is a crowd that doesn't understand that.

    Now, the bigger question, of course, what we were waiting to see and what we came prepared for a variety of responses to was what security would look like here. How big was the crowd? Was there any violence? And there was no violence. This was a peaceful crowd. It was not a large crowd, I would say, in the hundreds, perhaps 500 or so, maybe a little more, give or take. It was hard to make out how large the crowd was, though, Michael, because the truth is there were probably as many members of the media here covering this event as there were supporters behind the cause of the rally.

  • Michael Hill:

    And Lisa, it didn't seem to last very long either.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You know, the rally was intended to last about an hour or two, and it did seem to come in around that time. Many of the folks who came either for or against the rally stayed. There also were a large number of honestly, something I'm calling January 6 tourists around the Capitol. As fences go up, you often see people come here to take pictures of the fences. And there were a few flashpoints that I witnessed.

    Largely those were centered around a single individual. Of course, with these things, you draw people with passionate opinions. And there were occasions I saw one or two where police kind of gathered around someone like that who was shouting, seem to be acting out. And then those people were taken away in a different instance. We were also watching very carefully for whether that moment when those who support this cause and largely who support former President Trump walked by those who do not those who here were shouting against former President Trump, whether that would be a flash point. And by and large, it was not. The crowd here was told to try and stay peaceful, and it did.

    But, Michael, when you talk to people here, you really understood that the divide in America is still so sharp. This was a small crowd, but they did feel strongly, as did the counter protesters here. And those views have not changed from a year ago before the election or since January 6th.

  • Michael Hill:

    At least with all the members of the media there, no doubt some of them were looking out to see if any members of Congress would show up to support this rally.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    No members of Congress were here today. In fact, I did not see any elected lawmakers of any sort. It's possible I missed some state or local representatives, but Republicans made a decision that they did not want members of Congress to be here. And right now, you hear some of the larger trucks that have been serving as barricades moving away from this area.

    As you can see now, the phasing out of this security plan is happening, and that's good news for people in Washington. It is a question of whether there will be any kind of political repercussions are sort of lasting effects of this rally. Will the cause of the people put in jail for January 6 remain? I don't know. I know that the organization behind us says that they will keep at it.

  • Michael Hill:

    Lisa, who were the people speaking there and what did they say?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The speakers were a variety, including the man behind this rally who's a former Trump campaign staffer, high ranking staffer. But they also included the relatives of some of the people jailed currently for January 6.

    Now, I will say that this crowd contained a full spectrum of ideas about January 6. I spoke to people here who believe that all of the footage, all of the reporting we've done, what I personally saw on January 6 was not true. They believe the whole thing was a setup. They believe that no one should be in prison for January 6. Those people were here at this rally.

    There also were people who disregard that, know that those are falsehoods, and who say we're still concerned about those who are in jail for lower level misdemeanor crimes. And by the way, those people tell me we are not happy with the Republican Party. We're not happy with President Biden. Who are they happy with? President Trump.

  • Michael Hill:

    Lisa, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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