More than 600 people have been charged for various crimes in connection with their roles in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of those, 78 remain behind bars pending trial, most charged with assaulting police and committing the worst of the violent acts that day.
Former Trump campaign staffer Matt Braynard, organizer of a march in Washington, D.C., today, is trying to use the march to rewrite history and cast the rioters as “political prisoners” and “patriots.” He has the backing of his former boss, twice-impeached, one-term former president Donald Trump, who issued a statement on his website saying, “Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election. In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice.”
The facts do not bear out those assertions. Defendants in the D.C. riot cases are being held in pre-trial detention at lower rates than federal defendants nationwide who are accused of similar offenses. And, not one person charged with a misdemeanor such as trespassing remains locked up. Several have received the court’s permission to travel internationally for vacations while awaiting trial and/or sentencing.
As federal judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents work their way through the cases, they are becoming increasingly weary of the attempts at revisionist history. “What happened on January 6th was not a peaceful demonstration,” U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman said in sentencing the latest misdemeanor defendant Friday to probation, 120 hours of community service and $500 restitution. “Every participant in [the Capitol breach], for no matter how many minutes, contributed to an assault on democracy and democratic norms that continues to resonate in unfortunate ways.”
At an earlier sentencing, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, a Ronald Reagan appointee said, “Patriots are not the ones who attack the operations of Congress.”