While the Rally for January 6 prisoners was a bust, it still mattered a lot

On Saturday, there was a rally in D.C. to bring attention to the plight of those people arrested on January 6 and still held in solitary confinement in D.C. jails. President Trump warned people in advance that the rally was a no-win situation and he was right. It was poorly attended and it seems that many of those who did appear—perhaps intending to act as provocateurs—were law enforcement agents trying to “blend in with the crowd.” Most importantly, though, this failed rally revealed that non-leftists in America are losing their First Amendment right to protest.

During an interview on Thursday with The Federalist, Trump spelled out precisely why the planned rally was going to fail:

“On Saturday, that’s a setup,” Trump said, referring to the rally. “If people don’t show up they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s a lack of spirit.’ And if people do show up they’ll be harassed.”

He proved to have been right on both counts. The Daily Mail (which I usually go to first because it’s more honest than the American media), described the protest as “sparsely attended,” with perhaps 400-450 genuine protesters present. However, said the Daily Mail, the police were out in force:

A sparsely attended ‘Justice for J6’ rally on Saturday featured more police officers and press than protesters as a few hundred demonstrators gathered in the shadow of the Capitol building to show support for the January 6th rioters who stormed it.

A heavy police presence - officers in riot gear, plain clothes police, law enforcement on bikes and horses - awaited the crowd.

Only four people were arrested, two of whom were caught on outstanding warrants from Texas.

It appears that a lot of FBI agents may have attended the rally in plainclothes. This was their idea of trying to blend in as things were getting started:

One law enforcement officer figured out that it might be better if he really blended in, in a kind of rough Antifa fashion. He managed to fool the D.C. police, in their black Star Wars Stormtrooper uniforms, until he pulled out his badge, at which point everything was cool:

What happened Saturday had barely any sound or fury and it truly signified nothing. At least, it signified nothing insofar as it was meant to gather non-leftists to protest the fact that, almost ten months after January 6, Americans are being held under miserable circumstances without the benefit of a “speedy and public trial,” and without being “informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” against each of them. The Sixth Amendment means nothing in D.C. and the rally didn’t change that.

The rally’s meaninglessness highlights problems flowing from the draconian consequences the government meted out to the January 6 protestors: They’re having a chilling effect on conservatives exercising their First Amendment rights to peaceable assembly. Last year, during riots in honor of George Floyd, an ex-felon hopped up on drugs who violently resisted arrest, people destroyed public and private property, looted stores, and attacked police officers. Those protesters and looters arrested were often released immediately on their own recognizances and, just as often, saw their charges dropped.

The January 6 protests are different. We know the Capitol Police invited many people into the building and those people simply wandered through peacefully and then left again. They caused minimal damage to the building, although they did scare our congresspeople, a group that should always be remembered for its cowardice and histrionics. There was only one unnatural death (as opposed to deaths from heart attacks or a drug overdose) when Michael Byrd, a Capitol police officer, murdered Ashli Babbitt.

Nevertheless, January 6 was followed by a nationwide FBI dragnet, humiliating and overwhelming (and sometimes mistaken) arrests, hidden evidence, outrageous charges (which then get reduced to things such as “parading” if defendants go through Maoist “re-education”) and, as noted, months in prison without charges or trial. At least one prisoner was severely beaten. There’s also reason to believe that many of the people attending the rally on January 6 were provocateurs, whether from the FBI or Antifa, intentionally trying to destroy conservatives. This is truly the politics of personal destruction.

This grotesque overreaction is having a chilling effect on conservatives. Unlike many leftists who are professional protesters, conservatives have jobs, families, and mortgages, all of which can be destroyed if they’re swept into a dragnet for daring to exercise their First Amendment rights to petition their government and engage in peaceful protest. And so, they fall silent in the face of government injustice. The risks are just too great for them.

The Biden era represents the crushing of American constitutional rights, whether to travel freely, run their businesses, show their faces, educate their children, live in a country secure from foreign invasion, or peacefully protest and petition their government.

Image: Police temporarily detain one of their own. Twitter screen grab.

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