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DC Police Outnumber Jan. 6 Protesters  09/19 09:24

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a city still on edge after the Jan. 6 insurrection, 
law enforcement bore down in large numbers on the Capitol on Saturday over 
concerns that a rally in support of the jailed rioters would turn violent. It 
didn't.

   The crowd was sparse and incidents were few. The only clear parallels to the 
riots more than eight months ago by supporters of Donald Trump were the false 
claims put forth by the rally organizers about the violence that January day 
when Congress met to certify the election of Joe Biden.

   The low turnout also called into question whether such rallies will have any 
staying power as the organizers attempt to tap into the rage of Jan. 6 without 
the presence of the former president.

   Law enforcement had prepared for a confrontation by erecting temporary 
fencing around the Capitol and deploying heavy dump trucks to ring the rally 
site. Local police departments and the U.S. National Guard were on standby.

   The security might have been unnecessary in the end, but the volatility 
around the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and the presence of extremists 
and white nationalist groups on Jan. 6 have made it impossible to predict how 
such events will go.

   U.S. Capitol Police said they received intelligence information leading up 
to the weekend that was similar to what was missed in January, when law 
enforcement was only expecting a free speech protest and Trump supporters 
violently stormed the Capitol.

   Republican lawmakers, including those who had voted that day to challenge 
Biden's election, avoided Saturday's rally. Rally organizer Matt Braynard took 
elected officials to task for not backing up those now in jail and introduced 
candidates who are running for elected office.

   Counterprotesters stood by and jeered. Some held anti-Trump signs and one 
man who had confronted some of the pro-Trump protesters was quickly removed by 
police, who used bicycles to shield him from the crowd as they escorted him 
down the street.

   One person was arrested in the crowd for carrying a knife and a second man 
was arrested after someone reported to officers that they saw him carrying what 
appeared to be a handgun, police said. Two other people who police say were 
wanted in Texas -- for a firearms charge and probation violation -- were also 
arrested after being pulled over near the Capitol Saturday morning.

   Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer, opened in calm and deliberate 
tones. He said the event was for the defendants held behind bars.

   On Jan.6, dozens of law enforcement officers were left bloodied and and 
beaten as the crowd of pro-Trump rioters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear 
spray, charged into the Capitol, quickly overrunning the overwhelmed police 
force. One officer was beaten and shocked with a stun gun repeatedly until he 
had a heart attack; another was foaming at the mouth and screaming for help as 
rioters crushed him between two doors and bashed him in the head with his own 
weapon.

   The Associated Press reviewed hundreds of court and jail records for the 
Capitol riot defendants to uncover how many were being detained and found 
roughly 63 held in federal custody awaiting trial or sentencing hearings.

   At least 30 are jailed in Washington. The rest are locked up in facilities 
across the country. They have said they are being treated unfairly, and one 
defendant said he was beaten.

   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has set 
standards for judges to apply in deciding whether to jail a Capitol riot 
defendant. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in March that rioters 
accused of assaulting officers, breaking through windows, doors and barricades, 
or playing leadership roles in the attack were in "a different category of 
dangerousness" than those who merely cheered on the violence or entered the 
building after it was breached.

   Among the rally speakers was the girlfriend of Jonathan Mellis, who was seen 
on camera on Jan. 6 using a stick to attack officers who were outside the 
Capitol trying to hold back the mob, authorities said.

   Mellis was heard saying "knock their masks off," and video shows him 
repeatedly striking and stabbing at officers with the stick, according to court 
documents. Authorities said in court documents that he appeared to be trying to 
hit the officers' necks between their helmets and body-armor, where they had no 
protection.

   Other defendants ordered locked up while they await trial include a man 
accused of dragging a police officer down steps to be beaten by an American 
flag and another man accused of leading a group of rioters up the Capitol steps 
to confront officers.

   But judges have released the vast majority of the defendants, including more 
than a dozen members and associates of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group, who 
are charged in perhaps the most serious case brought so far in the attack. Only 
three people charged in the Oath Keepers conspiracy case remain locked up after 
judges said they appeared to play a leadership role in the alleged conspiracy.

   Authorities have said the Oath Keepers prepared in the weeks leading up to 
Jan. 6 as if they were heading to war, came to Washington ready for violence 
and dressed that day in battle gear, wearing helmets and tactical vests.

 
 
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