The Justice for J6 rally, organized by "Look Ahead America" and led by Matt Braynard, a former "Director of Data and Strategy for the Trump campaign," took place in front of the United States Capitol on September 18, 2021.
I only heard about the rally a few days earlier, and never heard of "Look Ahead America" before then, however my interest was piqued in part by all the hand wringing and hype being built up in the media about it and the ever-present intelligence "chatter" that they so love to report.
Has anyone in the intelligence community ever defined what "chatter" is? Is there some kind of scale to measure it? And is it worse than intelligence murmurs but less concerning than intelligence harangues?
I'm curious because these are the kinds of headlines chatter produces.
No, I live here, and Washington was not "on edge." Half of Washington didn't even know about it. On the short drive to the rally I saw people going about their normal Saturday, and tourists doing their touristy things.
There was this, too.
No it was never sounding like that. In the weeks leading up to the rally, the expectations were for no more than 700 people.
I decided I need to be on edge like everyone else the media was telling me were, and took a look for myself, to check out just how close we might once again come to losing our Democracy!
What did I find?
I was already put at ease knowing that a caped crusader would be there helping to keep order.
And there was this guy, kind of a buffalo horn hat guy cosplayer I guess. He was everywhere doing interviews with anyone he could find which I assume was why he was there.
Sorry, but this is like doing an interview with Justin Bieber because Mick Jagger was too busy.
Yes, rallies always bring out the crazies, but there were of course more serious things going on, if perhaps no less comical.
But first, let's address the matter of turnout which was well below 700.
That's a tight shot, but I'd put it at about 350 to no more than 400, not counting the glowies (more on them later), the reporters, and the LEOs.
So. Many. LEOs.
The National guard was on alert as I understand it, but all I saw were uniformed police officers.
It was absurd, laughably so. I know they didn't want a repeat of January 6, and neither did I, but this was ludicrous. You might have heard that there were more police than protesters, and in total, that was certainly true if you counted everyone called out.
Police ringed the entire (newly fenced-in, again) perimeter of the Capitol. I walked it.
This was off to the Northwest corner.
The pictures don't do any of this justice, but there were A LOT of police, from jurisdictions all over the area (I'll point them out in a bit).
The fencing wrapped all the way around the capitol. This was at the northeast corner.
On my walk along the northern perimeter I came across sheriff's deputies, park police, and police from Alexandria, just across the Potomac and to the south of Arlington.
This was the back of the Capitol to the west. Not many police visible here, but there were quite a few across the street standing behind fencing that was protecting the Supreme Court.
This was to the south. I had a bad angle here, but imagine that density of cops in the foreground stretching two full city blocks down that street.
The only people on this side were tourists, and me.
Across the street were these friendly peace officer-type vehicles.
These were from the Prince Georges PD, a nearby Maryland county.
I'd love to see their "community outreach!"
This was directly to the east of the Capitol, just behind the protesters, a platoon or two of bike cops backed up by dump trucks because, I don't know, the intelligence chatter warned against potholes?
As for the protest itself, there were about three platoons of cops in full riot gear.
There were these guys, Capitol Police officers, right in the crowd, to the right as you faced the stage.
I don't know, this has a bit of a Star Wars First Order vibe to it. But look at that shiny brand new riot gear!
It's so pristine, not so much as a scuff mark. In fact I think they might have missed removing a tag or two. Or maybe they're going to try to pull off the old prom dress trick and return it all after the big day and swear they never wore it, it just didn't fit, or the after party was totally not worth it...
But they were ready. Take an even closer look and you'll see.
Yep, this guy's got his canister unholstered and is about one "stop the steal" chant away from unleashing a hellfury of pepper spray.
I don't blame him, this is what he was facing down. (He's center front, short guy, you can see the blue label on the can.)
From that angle you can't fully appreciate the look in the eyes of these potential insurrectionists, the kind of look that can only say, "Ooh, wait until I get this up on Instagram."
In fairness, just off to the right of that picture awaited this particular menace.
Would you want to have to deal with an unhappy feminist from the PBS Newshour resentful that one of her male colleagues wasn't given this snoozer of an assignment?
There were these guys too, standing with the Capitol to their backs on the other side of the stage.
The show of force attracted a press scrum pretty much every time.
And really, why not, it makes for a good photo. I certainly took plenty, but if this is all you show, it creates the illusion of menace where there was none.
Look, I know they were told to put their mean faces on and all, but these two were barely five foot five, and the one on the left looks more like he's mad he missed his 8th-grade field trip than he's ready to bust some insurrectionist heads.
Here are some more on the other side of the low fence they had put up here. These guys are from Arlington County, where I live. Good to know.
How would you like to have been the salesman at "Riot Gear R Us" this year?!
Here are some of the signs. They were almost all homemade. This was not some slick, billionaire-funded undertaking. This appeared to be about as genuinely grass roots as you can get in Washington.
I liked the color coordination with this guy. His wife must have had a hand in picking it out.
Sure why not?
Ooh, we had a theologian in the crowd!
Who wants to tell him?
The one the left could have planned a little better (next time, use pencil first), but the one on the right makes up for it with the enthusiastic use of helpful arrows.
I don't follow everything here. Maybe it's meant to be a word jumble.
As for the actual speeches, they, and the rally overall, were nothing like what was being portrayed in the media.
The message was subtle, complex even, and so easily corrupted by those who would prefer it be garbled.
This was not about the election, it was not about justifying the riot, in fact, Braynard called the violence on January 6th, "stupid." He correctly pointed out that progressives want conservatives to commit acts of violence so they can marginalize their voices.
He said they were "terrified by peaceful protest" and "peaceful community organizing," because you can't demonize that. He called on people to "channel" their anger into "things that are productive."
These do not sound like the rantings of an extremist. Certainly not an insurrectionist.
So why were they there? To speak for the civil rights of many of those charged with crimes on January 6 that they maintain are being mistreated. Not the people who committed acts of violence, but others who got swept up in the mania.
One of the speakers was Cara Castronuova of Citizens Against Political Persecution. She spoke passionately, as others did, of those she felt were being mistreated including one woman she claimed had been beaten to death by Capitol police officers.
She was later interviewed by Scott Wheeler of OAN.
I got her business card afterwards.
Incidentally, she's a former champion boxer and so not one to be trifled with.
I don't know enough about any of this to pass judgment on the credibility of these claims, but I don't dismiss them, either. I often suspect people like this of being grifters (so much of that in DC) but it's something I plan on looking into. It certainly is thankless work on her part. Say or do anything in defense of anyone remotely associated with January 6, an event that was awful, but has been way overblown by those with political agendas, and you are labeled a traitor.
This does all create some cognitive dissonance, however. On the one hand, you have a speaker claiming the Capitol police beat a woman to death, followed, right after, by Matt Braynard praising those very same police for "keeping us safe" and even leading the crowd in a round of applause.
I get that it's a natural tension. We need cops to keep us safe, and some cops do bad things, but the juxtaposition was just an odd bit of mixed messaging.
Which brings me back to the complexity and subtlety of the issue.
Braynard is another person I would need to look at more closely, but he, and the J6 rally, are attempting to do something very difficult, and that is break through the simple-minded narratives and themes that drive our news cycles and address what, at least in some cases, appear to be genuine violations of these prisoners' civil rights.
It's a heavy lift, the entire subject is toxic which is why no elected Republicans showed up to speak, but I'm glad I went and heard what they had to say, which is kind of what public discourse is supposed to be about.
But we're not done here yet. First, the glowies. You may have seen this picture making the rounds.
I did not pick up on a particularly large presence of undercover police, and did not see these particular guys standing all together like this. However, I went back through my pictures and I believe I tracked down a couple.
This guy is in the background of the photo facing the Washington Monument above.
This guy was in a photo I took to the left of the last one at about the same time.
They were there, but taking a look at the crowd pictures I took it appears that the vast majority of the people were legit.
The media was so desperate to point out the low turnout, even though the turnout was already low. They said things like, "the police and media outnumbered protesters," which is true, but it's more true to point out that only the police outnumbered them. There were A LOT of media people, but not the 600 number I saw some people comically claim. I would guess maybe 100 to at most 150.
A few more random notes.
Justice for J6 hired their own security, the guys in the black polos.
One was filming me, lol, as I was filming a speaker. Like that was necessary.
Can you imagine how many watch lists I'm on?
This posting makes me laugh every time I look at it.
"FIRST AMENDMENT ACTIVITY AREA"
Second amendment suspended.
One right at a time people, we're rationing now.
On a personal note, as I walked the perimeter I veered off to find a Starbucks in part to see if, as per standard protest protocols, someone had smashed all the windows, but mostly because I wanted coffee and had to use the bathroom. One little thing I had forgotten.
"...regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not."
I could do without coffee, but I really needed to use a restroom.
Fortunately, sort of, I found this random job johnny sitting on the street. I have no idea why it was there. I took a picture of the inside. I decided to spare you that. Just imagine the worst.
And of course, I couldn't take the Metro back, so my wife had to come back in and get me.
At the very end of the rally, Braynard implored everyone to "stay in groups until you get out of DC." He's said this before. "DC is a dangerous place," "if you see someone walking alone, invite them to walk with you."
Look, DC is "dangerous" in the sense that it is a city, and while there were some counter protesters they weren't being overly aggressive. I thought this was bizarre fear mongering.
I hazarded the walk alone.
In the end, this was not a false flag trap, it did have low attendance, but not surprisingly low (and not the absurd claims of 150 to 200 being made), there was no violence beyond a few random isolated incidents here, certainly nothing organized, and they had a message that I believe deserves both attention and some incredulity, which is how you should always approach anything and anyone with a message.
Will it get that from the media? Here was The Atlantic's take.
The right-wing rally at the Capitol turned out to be a forum for random grievances, and an opportunity to dress like Batman.
Yes, it was that, but it was more, and they do their readers a great disservice by not addressing both. (The article itself is not terrible, worth a quick read.)
In sum, it was a very nice day, and our Capitol city remains a beautiful place.
Well, when it's not all fenced off.
P.S. Now check out our viral vid "How to speak Bidenese" 😁 👇