Capitol rally seeks to rewrite Jan. 6 by exalting rioters

Sep 12, 2021, 9:06 AM | Updated: Sep 13, 2021, 3:47 pm
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads...

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, joined at left by Assistant Chief Yogananda Pittman, heads to a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders for a briefing as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2021, file photo a video surveillance apparatus is seen on the East Front of the Capitol in Washington as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot. The camera surveillance system is on permanent loan from the U.S. Army but will be operated by the Capitol Police to enhance security around the Capitol grounds. Law enforcement officials concerned by the prospect for violence at a rally in the nation's capital next week are planning to reinstall protective fencing that surrounded the U.S. Capitol for months after the Jan. 6 insurrection there. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2021, file photo a video surveillance apparatus is seen on the East Front of the Capitol in Washington as security officials prepare for a Sept. 18 demonstration by supporters of the people arrested in the Jan. 6 riot. The camera surveillance system is on permanent loan from the U.S. Army but will be operated by the Capitol Police to enhance security around the Capitol grounds. Law enforcement officials concerned by the prospect for violence at a rally in the nation's capital next week are planning to reinstall protective fencing that surrounded the U.S. Capitol for months after the Jan. 6 insurrection there. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
            
              FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo U.S. Capitol Police officers with guns drawn and Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, in blue shirt, watch as insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. First, some blamed the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on left-wing Antifa antagonists, a theory quickly debunked. Then came comparisons of the rioters as peaceful protesters, or even “tourists." Now, Trump allies rallying in support of those people charged in the Capitol riot are calling them “political prisoners," a stunning effort to revise the narrative of that deadly day. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
            
              FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. First, some blamed the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on left-wing Antifa antagonists, a theory quickly debunked. Then came comparisons of the rioters as peaceful protesters, or even “tourists." Now, Trump allies rallying in support of those people charged in the Capitol riot are calling them “political prisoners," a stunning effort to revise the narrative of that deadly day. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — First, some blamed the deadly Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol on left-wing antifa antagonists, a theory quickly debunked. Then came comparisons of the rioters to peaceful protesters or even tourists.

Now, allies of former President Donald Trump are calling those charged in the Capitol riot “political prisoners,” a stunning effort to revise the narrative of that deadly day.

The brazen rhetoric ahead of a rally planned for Saturday at the Capitol is the latest attempt to explain away the horrific assault and obscure what played out for all the world to see: rioters loyal to the then-president storming the building, battling police and trying to stop Congress from certifying the election of Democrat Joe Biden.

“Some people are calling it Jan. 6 trutherism — they’re rewriting the narrative to make it seem like Jan. 6 was no big deal, and it was a damn big deal, and an attack on our democracy,” said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, who studies extremist movements.

All told, the attempted whitewashing of the Jan. 6 attack threatens to further divide an already polarized nation that finds itself drifting from what had been common facts and a shared commitment to civic order toward an unsettling new normal.

Rather than a nation healing eight months after the deadly assault, the country is at risk of tearing itself further apart, as the next election approaches.

The anticipated crowd size and the intensity of the Saturday rally are unclear, but law enforcement appears to be taking no chances. Security fencing was approved Monday for areas around the Capitol, and reinforcements are being summoned to back up the Capitol Police, whose leadership was criticized and summarily dismissed for its handling of Jan. 6.

While authorities have been bracing for a repeat appearance by right-wing extremist groups and other Trump loyalists who mobbed the Capitol, it’s unclear if those actors will participate in the new event. The extremist groups are concerning because, while members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers made up a small portion of the Jan. 6 rioters, they are accused of some of the more serious crimes in the attack.

Whether those groups participate or not, the rally could bring lone actors to Washington. Just after midnight on Monday, Capitol Police arrested a California man who had a bayonet and machete in his pickup truck outside of Democratic National Committee headquarters. The man, Donald Craighead of Oceanside, California, had a swastika and other white supremacist symbols painted on his truck and told officers he was “on patrol.” The police said it was unclear if he was planning on attending any upcoming demonstrations.

Rally organizer Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign strategist, has been promoting the event and others like it in cities nationwide, focusing attention on what he calls the “prisoners” being unfairly prosecuted for their involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

“I am so proud of all of the brave patriots who participated in these rallies under the same threat to their rights of so many who are being held in prison now for a non-violent expression of their First Amendment rights,” he said in a July news release.

Braynard declined to respond to additional questions by email, and The Associated Press declined to accept the conditions he made for an interview.

As Trump openly considers another run for the White House, many of the Republican lawmakers who joined his effort to challenge Biden’s victory are staying away from the Saturday rally, even though many still echo his false claims that the election was rigged — despite numerous court cases by Trump’s allies that have failed to confirm those allegations.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who joined rally-goers near the White House on Jan. 6 where Trump encouraged the crowd to go to the Capitol, declined to comment, his spokesman said by email. Brooks is now running for the Senate.

Another Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who voted to challenge some Electoral College tallies, was unavailable for an interview, his office said.

Also declining an interview was Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who was captured in a photo raising a fist in salute to the mob as he entered the Capitol that day.

More than 600 people are facing federal charges in the riot that injured dozens of officers and sent lawmakers into hiding. Five people eventually died, including Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into a lobby off the House chamber. Several police officers later took their own lives.

Hundreds of people were charged with misdemeanors for entering the Capitol illegally, but hundreds of others are facing more serious felony charges including assault, obstruction of an official proceeding or conspiracy.

The most serious cases have been brought against members of two far-right extremist groups — the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — as authorities probe to what extent the attack was planned. No Jan. 6 defendant has been charged with sedition, though it was initially considered by authorities.

More than 60 people have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor charges of demonstrating in the Capitol.

Only a fraction of the defendants remain locked up while they await trial. Lawyers have complained of overly harsh conditions for the Jan. 6 defendants in the D.C. jail, saying they are being held in what has been dubbed the “Patriot Unit.”

Defenders of the alleged Capitol attackers claim they are facing harsher prosecutions because of their political views than others, including Black Lives Matter protesters, but a review of court cases by the AP refutes that claim.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the select panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack, said those who broke the law need to be prosecuted, “otherwise, we just rationalize, excuse and encourage more of the same.”

The Capitol’s leafy grounds, a favorite spot for people to snap photos in front of the iconic dome, would typically see few lawmakers or staff on a Saturday. While the Senate returned to session Monday, the House doesn’t resume until next week.

When the fence first went up around the Capitol after the January attack, it drew heavy criticism from those worried about the message being sent as a symbol of democracy was closed off. Now, it’s increasingly seen as a necessary precaution.

___

Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin in Boston and Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Hinman Glacier...
Associated Press

Washington’s Hinman Glacier gone after thousands of years

The largest glacier between the high peaks of Mount Rainier and Glacier Peak has melted away after a long battle with global warming.
11 hours ago
Pierce County substation...
Associated Press

Man accused in holiday substation vandalism released from custody

A man charged with vandalizing electrical substations over the holidays to cover a burglary was released from federal custody.
11 hours ago
Associated Press

U.S. presses Kosovo on municipal body in Serb-majority areas

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — United States officials on Monday pressed Kosovo to allow an association of ethnic Serb-majority municipalities as a “critical element” in its road as an independent country. Derek Chollet, counselor of the Department of State, and Gabriel Escobar, special envoy for the Western Balkans, published an op-ed as part of U.S. and […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

West Virginia advances school mandate on ‘In God We Trust’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Public schools in West Virginia may soon be required to display the phrase “In God We Trust” in every building if a bill passed by the state Senate on Monday becomes law. The bill was introduced by Republican Sen. Mike Azinger, who said he wants to give kids in schools something […]
1 day ago
FILE - A sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Dec. 8, 2022. The House Oversight ...
Associated Press

Ex-Twitter execs to testify on block of Hunter Biden story

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Twitter employees are expected to testify next week before the House Oversight Committee about the social media platform’s handling of reporting on President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The scheduled testimony, confirmed by the committee Monday, will be the first time the three former executives will appear before Congress to discuss […]
1 day ago
Jaafar Jackson appears during the "Living with The Jacksons" panel at the Reelz Channel 2014 Summer...
Associated Press

Michael Jackson’s nephew to star in King of Pop biopic

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Jackson’s 26-year-old nephew, Jaafar Jackson, will play the King of Pop in the planned biopic “Michael” to be directed by Antoine Fuqua. Lionsgate announced Jackson’s casting Monday for the film being produced by Oscar-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King. Jackson is the second-youngest son of Jermaine Jackson, Michael’s brother. He’s […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Capitol rally seeks to rewrite Jan. 6 by exalting rioters