Right-wing rally near U.S. Capitol shrinks amid high police alert

(Xinhua) 09:21, September 20, 2021

Police stand guard near the Capitol building during a right-wing rally in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Sept. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- A sharply shrunk right-wing rally on Saturday was held peacefully before the long fencing of U.S. Capitol amid high police alert and tight media presence, crying out over the treatment of Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.

Just a crowd of not many people gathered at noon time in a small park with the Capitol in clear view, far less than the number that authorities had estimated. Prior to the event, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reportedly expected about 700 protesters would show up.

During the "Justice for J6" rally lasting about 90 minutes, dozens of law enforcement officers, wearing riot gear, stood straight between protesters and the security fencing surrounding the Capitol. Many more police officers and vehicles were seen on closed roads near the Capitol in preparation for any violence.

People gather near the Capitol building during a right-wing rally in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Sept. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Police Chief Robert Contee told NBC News that stepped-up police presence might have kept the number of rally attendees lower.

"It's very small, you know, they didn't advertise this on social media the way they did on Jan. 6. A lot of people are saying they don't come to this," Frank Higgins, a local tech analyst, told Xinhua outside the rally.

Barbara Kerns, a Virginia housewife in her fifties, told Xinhua that she came to the rally because she believed those Jan. 6 Capitol rioters "were not violent people" and didn't get their due process. She also said she believed the 2020 U.S. presidential election had been stolen, just as former President Donald Trump claimed.

"It's not an insurrection. It was a protest going out of hand. That's about it. I'm here in support of those people's rights," another protester wearing Batman costumes, told Xinhua. He only gave the name of Batman.

The 2020 presidential election was "absolutely stolen" by the Democratic Party, he claimed, adding that election fraud is the top issue he is concerned about most for this country.

"I am glad that very few protesters showed up, but I want to make sure I'm here to stand physically to show my opposition to the Jan. 6 insurrection," Pam, a counter-protester holding a banner that reads "Lies aren't equal to free speech", told Xinhua.

The middle-aged woman, who only gave her first name, called Jan. 6 Capitol rioters "traitors" and said she was very angry about what had happened that day.

"It's going to be a very long time to overcome" the current bitter political division in the country, Higgins said.

There is probably a way forward for the United States to become better but "50% of the country will not follow that way," said Higgins.

NBC News reported that Capitol Police arrested a man with a knife for a weapons violation less than one hour before the rally began.

More than 600 people have been arrested since the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, over 50 of whom have pleaded guilty to federal crimes, according to media reports.

A mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election results for President Joe Biden. The riot, later deemed an insurrection, left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)


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