At a demonstration by supporters of the former US President Donald Trump in front of the Capitol in Washington, the feared violence did not materialize. Under high security precautions, significantly fewer people gathered on Saturday than expected on the historic National Mall in front of the convention center. The pro-Trump demonstration a good eight months after the storming of the Capitol had worried the security authorities – they feared new riots. The Capitol Police have now reported four arrests.
The demonstration was a solidarity event for defendants who face trial for storming the Capitol on January 6th. The organizer was a former member of Trump’s campaign team, Matt Braynard. According to the police, the organizers had registered 700 participants for the demo. Ultimately, the police counted up to 450 people in the area cordoned off for the rally. But there were also onlookers and representatives of the press.
Trump supporters had violently stormed the Capitol in the US capital on January 6th. Five people were killed, including a police officer. The unprecedented attack on the heart of US democracy caused a shock both nationally and internationally. Trump had to face impeachment proceedings for the attack because he had previously incited his supporters at a rally. At the end of the trial, the Republican was acquitted.
Braynard’s group believes that numerous demonstrators are treated with disproportionate severity and are being held as “political prisoners”. Braynard claimed in the past that a number of demonstrators believed they had permission to enter the Capitol. He called on the demonstrators several times during his speech to remain peaceful.
He and the Trump supporters clapped ostentatiously for the Capitol Police. Braynard also called on the demonstrators to smile gently at security forces and others as they leave the premises. “We will keep fighting,” he announced. The demonstrators chanted, among other things, “USA, USA, USA”.
The low turnout at the rally came as no surprise. According to media reports, influential figures from the extreme right even advised their supporters not to attend the demonstration. They claimed the event was a trap. Rumors circulated that the government was trying to lure protesters to Washington to arrest them.
Some observers still rate the protest as a success for Trump supporters because they received a lot of attention for their message. “This whole reinterpretation also serves to normalize the violence, which is extremely problematic,” said Alex Friedfeld of the civil rights organization Anti-Defamation League the broadcaster NPR. “If insurrection is not a crime, if an attempt to overthrow the government is not a crime, where do we stand as a country?”
The Capitol Police, which came under fire after the Capitol attack on January 6, had massively equipped for the demonstration over the weekend. A fence was temporarily rebuilt around the Capitol due to the demo. The fence was erected after the attack in January and only dismantled in July. Some counter-demonstrators also took to the streets in Washington on Sunday.