Capitol police are bracing for potential violence at the “Justice for J6” protest rally taking place in Washington DC on Saturday. Despite local and federal officials saying that they expect no more than 700 people to attend the protest, a far cry from the estimated tens of thousands of supporters of Donald Trump who converged on the Capitol in January, security fencing has still gone up once more around the building in anticipation of the kinds of crowds that gathered on January 6th for Trump’s “Save America” rally that preceded the Capitol siege.
“Justice for J6” rally is being organized by Look Ahead America, a group run by Matt Braynard, who was briefly employed by Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign as the director of data and strategy. Braynard also appeared at a rally for new Trump darling Joe Kent in Clark County, Washington, on Labor Day, where Matt Gaetz also appeared. Braynard orchestrated Kent’s speaking appearance at the J6 rally. [Writer’s disclosure: Matt Braynard recently blocked me on Twitter] Jaime Herrera Beutler, the incumbent in Kent’s district, WA-03, is being singled out for voting for Trump’s second impeachment, and Kent intends to make that a focal point of his speech as well as his campaign. Herrera Beutler’s spokesperson, Parker Truax, doesn’t mince words when it comes to Kent’s participation in the event: “We’ll see what transpires at this rally. Let there be no mistake that Joe Kent and his top campaign confidant organized, promoted, and are the lead participants of a rally designed to celebrate violent lawlessness and rioting. This is the opposite of law and order.”
Look Ahead America is also organizing more than a dozen “Justice for J6” rallies at the state level on September 18th and 25th, most of them at state capitols, according to the organization’s website. While several prominent Trump-supporting members of Congress who have defended the Capitol rioters as political prisoners are avoiding the rally, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Madison Cawthorn, those who had planned to attend are now being warned to stay away by extremist groups and prominent right-wing figures such as Roger Stone who are now calling the event a “false flag” and a “trap”.
Braynard has said the protest was organized in support of the “non-violent offenders” charged in connection with January 6th. He continues to defend the event against criticism from all sides. He tweeted at Ingraham: “You claim ignorance despite us sending about thirty press releases to your network’s producers over this time” and asked to be featured on her show. More recently, he posted a list of TV networks that were interviewing him about the rally, which did not include Fox News, and wrote, “Who is missing? Hmmm.”
Not surprised. Is anyone surprised that the organizer of tomorrow's September 18 rally at the Capitol, Look Ahead America, headed by former Trump campaign guy Matt Braynard, had their tax-exempt status revoked by the IRS, but they're still soliciting tax-deductible donations? pic.twitter.com/KCFisaaXWp
— Nancy Levine (@nancylevine) September 17, 2021
For a political base so often swayed by conspiracies, creating one around an event of their own seems ironic. Across right-wing social media platforms, most people who are talking about the event in any capacity are telling people to steer clear of DC. Any extremist group that’s talking about the rally is warning people against attending. While intelligence officials reportedly warned in early September that the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers were planning to attend the rally, both groups, whose members are facing some of the most serious charges in the 6 January attack, have since distanced themselves from the event. A Proud Boys social media channel posted “Sounds like bait” and wrote, “We aren’t going and you shouldn’t either”. In an interview on his way to jail, the group’s chairman, Enrique Tarrio, said: “The Proud Boys will not be there.”
From his jailhouse phone, Jan 6 defendant tells me supporters are "too damn broke" to come to DC in great numbers Saturday for the Sept 18 "Justice for J6" protest … on behalf of jailed defendants
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) September 17, 2021
Look Ahead America is also organizing more than a dozen “Justice for J6” rallies at the state level on 18 and 25 September, most of them at state capitols, according to the organization’s website. Braynard has said the protest was organized in support of the “non-violent offenders” charged in connection with 6 January. He continues to defend the event against criticism from all sides. Fox News host Laura Ingraham called the rally “stupid” and told her viewers she had never heard of it before she saw a report about it on CNN. Braynard tweeted at Ingraham: “You claim ignorance despite us sending about thirty press releases to your network’s producers over this time” and asked to be featured on her show. More recently, he posted a list of TV networks that were interviewing him about the rally, which did not include Fox News, and wrote, “Who is missing? Hmmm.”
Matt Braynard put out a statement, telling everyone who shows up for the Insurrection Rally on Saturday, not to wear Trump gear or carry Trump flags. I guess they’re going naked with just their white hoods.
— 𝐁𝐞𝐤𝐬 (@antifaoperative) September 15, 2021
More than 600 people have been charged so far in connection with the January 6th insurrection, and federal officials continue to announce new arrests. Many of the people arrested face relatively low-level charges, and unlike most people charged in the federal court system, the vast majority of them have been released ahead of trial.
— Joan Hussey (@Joanhussey1) September 16, 2021
Regardless of what happens on Saturday, the dangerous narrative that the January 6th defendants were “political prisoners” has begun to spread more widely in rightwing circles, and has been endorsed by Cawthorn and other Republicans in Congress, as well as Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
the kent campaign has not disclosed any payments for anything that could be interpreted as an office space rental, but they have made payments directly to matt braynard, braynard's other company (external affairs), and 9seven consulting, datwyler's consulting company. pic.twitter.com/bYJbwIVhNr
— molly conger (@socialistdogmom) September 17, 2021