WASHINGTON—The acrimony and anger of Whites who fear their grip on power and influence in America is slipping are not going down without a fight. The Justice for J6 Rally held Sept. 18 was the latest gathering of Whites angered in the aftermath their insurrection and attack at the Nation’s Capitol earlier this year. They are angry that 67 of the 595 people charged with assault, obstruction, trespassing and other crimes in connection with thousands that attacked the Capitol remain behind bars.
Their anger stems from holding on to the belief that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from Donald Trump and that Joe Biden is not a legitimate president. The violence and destruction caused by the Jan. 6 attack resulted in five deaths as law enforcement officials were outmanned.
Video footage of insurrectionists breaching the Capitol, roaming the hallways looking for members of Congress while destroying property and attacking police officers is forever etched in the minds of many Americans. Supporters of those being charged claim those arrested are now “political prisoners.”
“What they are protesting is the arrest of people who clearly broke the law,” Dr. Wilmer Leon, author and syndicated columnist told The Final Call. “Their motivations are political, but their actions were against the law. You cannot break into the Capitol. It’s called breaking and entering. I think it comes down to this whole idea of White entitlement. They believe that they’re just entitled to do this,” he continued.
“I remember watching some of the January 6th, coverage. There was this White woman walking down Constitution Avenue. She was in tears. This reporter walked up to her and said, ‘What’s going on? Why are you crying?’ She said, ‘They’re arresting us. All we did was break through the Capitol.’”
Though the Sept. 18 rally only drew a few hundred participants, what is clear is that the anger is not going anywhere and the impact and grip of Mr. Trump and his loyalists on the Republican Party is as tight as ever. The question remains, where does this leave a country that is still gripped in political, social and economic turbulence and turmoil?
Several hundred protestors met near the same place where thousands stormed the Capitol, to hear speeches in support of the rising White rage in America. It was organized by Matthew Braynard, executive director of Look Ahead America. He was the Director of Data and Strategy for the Trump campaign.
Arizona congressional candidate Jeff Zink spoke. He told those gathered his son was wrongly incarcerated after they both participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection but argues they were both “peacefully protesting.” This is in spite of FBI photos showing the contrary.
Another woman read an anonymous mother’s letter of one of the incarcerated January 6 insurrectionists. The letter accused the government of treating insurrectionists worse than death row inmates.
Attorney Barbara R. Arnwine, president and founder of Transformative Justice Coalition, argues the strategy of referring to these insurrectionists as “political prisoners” is faulty. “We know that throughout history, there’s always been this movement to appropriate, words, terms and slogans, by those who are in fact, the oppressors themselves, to try to always portray themselves as the victims, to try to build sympathy for their cause,” she told The Final Call.
“There’s no doubt here that these are people who are trying to vindicate people whose actions were in fact so deadly and dangerous, were designed to destroy American democracy,” added Atty. Arnwine.
“I think that is not the proper terminology for people who tried to destroy the Capitol and overturn the U.S. government. They apprehended them and then they’re going to make themselves political prisoners. I think that the American people are smarter than that,” Abdul Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of the Nation of Islam told The Final Call.
“They would never let that happen every time there’s a demonstration of any kind and somebody is arrested to call themselves political prisoners. We need to look at the legitimate political prisoners who were in jail and many of them are Black Americans.”
He added, “If every one of them started talking about political prisoners, you would see what you would have in this country. So, no, I think to get under that umbrella is not proper. If you notice hardly anyone turned out. It was a very small crowd, but the government wasn’t taking any chances and made sure everyone was peaceful.”
At the rally people could be heard using Black Lives Matter chants to urge the crowd to remember Ashli Babbitt who was shot by law enforcement as she tried to break through a window of the Capitol building in January.
The protestors were outnumbered by police. Law enforcement, careful not to make the same mistakes of Jan. 6, increased protection in anticipation of the event.
Unscalable fencing surrounded the Capitol, around three dozen Washington, D.C. snowplow trucks lined 3rd Street, blocking access to the road. Two squads of Capitol Police officers in riot gear walked up to the rally during the program to stand guard at the barrier behind the stage blocking access to the Capitol. A police helicopter flew overhead.
The media was also in numbers greater than the protestors, however this was inconsequential according to organizers.
“Already this rally is a success,” Mr. Braynard said in an interview on MSNBC the day before the rally. He explained that the number of attendees doesn’t matter because “there’s going to be so much media.” To him, “It’s not really a numbers game, it’s a message game,” he explained.
The other messages that day were basically given by mostly unknowns. Joe Kent and Mike Collins, who are running for Congress in Washington State and Georgia, respectively spoke. Both are pro-Trump Republicans. The rally drew a dividing line in the sand for Republicans who were mostly mute in their support of it.
“The events of Jan. 6 remain very contentious, but a lot of Republicans view the individuals who participated that day as heroes who were standing up for election integrity. Given how widespread that view is among Republicans, it puts a lot of pressure on GOP candidates to go soft on Jan. 6 or embrace what they did,” Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution told The Hill. “Politicians worry about being on the wrong side of public opinion within their own party,” he said.
“I think (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell is nervous that the longer Jan. 6 stays in the news, the worse it is for Republicans in a general election. I think he’s concerned about how this is going to play in suburbia, which is going to be the deciding grounds for the election. He’s been much quieter on that issue. He wants the economy and Afghanistan to be dominating the news, not Jan. 6.”
What is clear is that for most Republicans they don’t believe Mr. Biden won the presidency legitimately. The continued narrative that the election was “rigged” or “stolen” has not dissipated. According to media reports, a new CNN poll revealed that among Republicans, 78 percent say that Mr. Biden did not win, and 54 percent believe there is solid evidence of that. That view is deeply tied to support for or fear of Mr. Trump. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) recently announced he would not be seeking reelection in 2022 against his pro-Trump opponent.
The 37-year-old congressman who is of Cuban descent, said among other factors for his decision was fear for his family’s safety and disillusionment with the direction of his party. He was one of 10 Republicans that voted to impeach Mr. Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” for the former president’s role in inspiring and encouraging the insurrection.
The rally numbers did not disguise America’s true discontent with what happened on Jan. 6. Though many groups told their supporters not to participate, many people wanted to come and didn’t.
“I think right now things are still too incredibly volatile,” said Dr. Leon. “I don’t see anything on the economic landscape that has changed people’s perceptions of the country, let alone the world. For example, if we saw a dramatic improvement in the economy, then I think some of this division would go away,” he said.
“If we weren’t looking at 30 million people facing eviction, if the employment situation were better, then things I think would start to calm down. I don’t see any of those indicators on the horizon. What that says to me is not only is the division going to be sustained, but that also tells me that the division is going to increase dramatically.”
The rally at the Capitol was one of many planned around the country that day in support of the insurrectionists. In Seattle, a few people stood in the rain, chanting “USA.” About 20 people gathered across the street from the federal courthouse in Charlotte.
Minister Abdul Akbar Muhammad also feels this is another symptom of the rising White anger.
“So many of the things that White Americans have held dear to them, such as all of the statues of racist, White people who fought and preached on maintaining us as slaves are being torn down. They’ve lost their grip on things and now see the world clearly,” he said.
“Now what we have in America is everybody looking and wondering ‘Where is this going?’. They look back at the civil rights movement in terms of integration of the churches. It’s all coming full circle. If they could find a way or a leader who would stop it, who could stop things, then they would go for that leader,” he explained.
The Justice for J6 was the beginning of their efforts, organizers stated. The Look Ahead America announced 13 additional #JusticeforJ6 Rallies at state capitols across the country including in Georgia, New York and North Carolina.